NORMAL – Andrew McDowell isn’t sure what the college basketball team has done to deserve against a slew of Division I players.
“We have another game at 3:30 pm today,” the U High coach said on Tuesday morning. “I hope not (to see another).”
One night after facing two top college prospects from East St. Louis in the big boys’ division of the State Farm Holiday Classic, the Pioneers saw another bright and early at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in a consolation console game at Normal West.
Owen Freeman, a 6-foot-10 junior center, didn’t disappoint with an assistant coach from Iowa watching him. The Hawkeyes’ engagement scored 18 points as Bradley-Bourbonnais beat U High, 60-44.
“We had to bring it in today. We didn’t bring in enough energy and we struggled with mental toughness,” Freeman said of a loss to Peoria High on Monday. “We weren’t all there. Today we knew we had to bounce back.”
On Monday night, U High had to face Macalaeb Rich, Christian Jones, signatory from Missouri and East St. Louis. Rich, a well-built 6-6 junior with major interest, had 32 points and 6-5 senior point guard Jones added 20 as the Flyers claimed a 69-45 victory.
“We played well,” said Jones, whose team faced Peoria High in the quarter-finals on Tuesday night. “We played hard in defense, we talked and played as a team today.”
Jones used demonstration events in Bloomington and Rockford during the summer to increase his recruiting stock. He signed with Missouri and its head coach, East St. Louis legend Cuonzo Martin.
“He’s my point guard and my point guard,” East St. Louis coach Mark Chambers of Jones said. “He’s playing a huge role in stepping up and helping his team find their identity. He brings a lot of energy and knowledge to some of the young guys we have on this team. He’s kind of like a coach. in the field.”
Jones said he would do whatever the Flyers need to be successful.
“I think I’m a first passing point guard, but when the team needs me to score I can get a bucket,” he said.
The 185-pound Jones said his goal was to get “bigger, faster and stronger” before arriving in Missouri and making the Southeastern Conference against players like Kentucky and Auburn.
“I believe I can be a point guard and a vocal leader and help the team in different ways if I get my game in motion,” he said.
Freeman traveled to Iowa for the Hawkeyes soccer game in October and decided to commit early.
“I just knew it was my form. I had a special connection with the coaches and the players,” he said. “As a man of faith, I prayed about it, and that’s where I thought I needed to be. On the way home, I felt that was where I needed to be. “
Freeman has faced all kinds of defenses this season. U High often doubled and trebled him at the post, but Freeman showed an ability to send him back to an open shooter.
This helped the Boilermakers to sink 11 trees.
“There have been a few games this season where Owen caught the ball and five guys rushed at him,” BB coach Joe Lightfoot said. “But I love that he’s such a willful passer and a talented passer, too. The other guys are doing their jobs, space out and opening up the space for him to pass them. They trust him. and he trusts them, and that makes our offense much better. “
The early engagement ended phone calls and texts from college coaches. Freeman likes being able to just “be a high school student.”
But being a Big Ten rookie put a target on Freeman’s back.
“I feel a lot of pressure from everyone because I have to go out and show my abilities and show why I am committed,” he said.
Freeman watches the video of former Iowa star Luka Garza to see what post moves he can put into his game.
But it is the current Hawkeyes star that he would like to emulate in the future.
“I really watch Keegan Murray and the way he’s able to stretch the floor,” Freeman said. “He’s killing him right now.”
Certa sets a record
Central Catholic School sophomore goalie Cole Certa wowed an early morning crowd at the Shirk Center on Tuesday with his 3-point shot. He broke a tournament record in the process as the Saints faced Annawan, 72-32, in a Small School Boys consolation game.
Certa logged on 10 shots from outside the arc to break Rock Island Alleman’s Tyler Ryan’s previous nine-set tournament record in 1999.
“My teammates did a great job finding me,” said Certa, who hit six treys in the first quarter. “They went into the gaps and thought I was pretty good… at half time a teammate came up to me and said you were close to the record. I thought I could do it.”
The record for the most 3 points in a tournament is within reach of Certa with two games to go. He also lost four points in Monday’s loss to East Dubuque and is four away from breaking Ryan’s record of 17 set 22 years ago.
“I grew up playing here (at the Shirk Center) in a lot of tournaments,” Certa said. “I have a really good feeling with the court.”
Cleveland, Redd Rhythm NCHS
Chicago North Lawndale was tied with No. 1 seed Normal Community at 11 points after the first quarter of the LSB quarterfinal on Tuesday at Normal West.
Then came a flurry of NCHS flights and dunks. The Ironmen went on a 13-0 streak to gain control and were victorious 68-48.
Liberty rookie Zach Cleveland led the Ironmen (12-1) with 27 points while Trey Redd contributed 13 points and 12 assists. The NCHS will face Wheaton Warrensville South at 4 p.m. Wednesday in a semi-final game at the Shirk Center.
“This streak started on the defensive end,” said NCHS coach Dave Witzig. “As a Normal Community coach we’ve had a few runs already, but they’re not like that. We were able to push and get steals for layups, dunks and lob dunks. a new thing for all of us. “
Ethan Kizer sank five points to 3 points and scored 21 points as 10th-seeded Metamora beat No.2 Rock Island, 65-44, in a quarterfinal game.
Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, the No.1 seed in SSB, used a similar formula to NCHS while winning their quarter-final. A big second quarter broke the tie after the first eight minutes and led the Cyclones to a 66-49 victory over Kankakee Bishop McNamara. Junior guard Jake Hamilton scored 20 points to pace SHG.
Seeded Winnebago scored the ninth-most points in women’s tournament history when he routed Riverdale, 80-19, in a Small School first round match on Monday.
The 61-point victory margin was also the second-largest in tournament history.
Tuesday’s quarterfinal game wasn’t quite a hassle. The Indians led 14-9 at halftime before securing a 33-21 victory over the No. 9 seeded Camp Point Central / Augusta Southeastern.
Next up for Winnebago at 4 p.m. Wednesday in an NCHS semi-final game is University High. The 13th-seeded Pioneers shut out Annawan in the second quarter and won 44-30 in the quarterfinals. Adriana Crabtree scored 13 points and Macy Petelin 12 to lead U High.
Morton, the No.1 seed of the Large School Girls Bracket, advanced to the semifinals by beating No.9 Rock Island, 48-35. Harvard rookie Katie Krupa paced the Potters with 19 points.
Volunteer of the year
Announcer Mike Walker believed there was just a pause in the action after the first quarter of the NCHS-North Lawndale game.
He was surprised when he dropped the mic and it was announced that Walker, a longtime tournament assistant, was the recipient of the Selden Marquart Volunteer of the Year award.
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Contact Jim Benson at (309) 820-3404. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_benson