MARSEILLES — The Marseilles Holiday Tournament tipped off Thursday with a full-slate of eight boys basketball games.
The first day of the tournament saw three of the five participating area teams move on to the winner’s bracket as No. 8-seeded Marquette rallied to beat Gardner-South Wilmington 45-38, No. 1-seeded Putnam County beat Leland-Earlville 66-51 and No. 5-seeded Hall held off Serena 54-44.
The Crusader and Panther wins set up a rivalry game in the quarterfinals when the two Tri-County Conference squads meet at 6:30 tonight.
“Hopefully, we’re a little more ready to play (Friday),” Putnam County coach Josh Nauman said. “It’s always a conference game and a big rivalry. I’m sure they’ll be fired up for Marquette. That one I don’t have to say a whole lot to get them ready to go. They’ll be excited for it and look forward to the challenge.”
Hall could face PC or MA in the semifinals but first have to defeat No. 4-seeded St. Benedict, which cruised past Woodland 69-45 on Thursday.
“We are in the winner’s bracket. We moved to the right side,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said. “In any tournament where you go to the right side, you don’t get any more games where you can only play half a game. You have to play all four quarters to win and the kids know that from Colmone. Hopefully, they keep up.”
LaMoille-Ohio had the toughest challenge of the day as the Lions faced No.2-seeded Dwight in the second game of the tournament. L-O lost 57-27 and were scheduled to face Midland in the loser’s bracket at 9 a.m. today.
Hall 54, Serena 44
The Red Devils didn’t waste anytime against Serena.
Hall took the lead 20 seconds into the game and never relinquished the advantage as it outscored the Huskers in the first two quarters, 21-16 and 14-9, and tied in the third quarter. Serena took the fourth 10-9 as both teams rested their starters for the next round of the tournament.
“We were a little worried about the rust factor, having two days off for Christmas, or maybe being a little overconfident after getting a big ‘W’ over Fieldcrest and then winning the (Colmone Classic) over Mendota,” Filippini said. “I thought kids did a good job of keeping their composure. Every time we’d get (the lead) up to 10 or 11, they’d get it down to five or six. Serena did a nice job of kind of slowing the game down, not letting us get up and down the court where we score a lot of our points.”
Hall’s offense attacked the Huskers with its large array of weapons as A.J. Gaeta scored a game-high 16 points off 2-of-3 shooting from the 3-point line and Miguel Villarreal drove to the basket for 12 points.
Collin Aimone came off of the bench to score seven points and Ian Trevier had six points on two 3s.
The offense was stemmed from the Red Devils work on the glass.
“I thought we did a great job of defensive rebounding,” Filippini said. “It didn’t seem like we had more than four or five offensive rebounds. I thought we did a great job boxing out. I was real proud of kids for that effort. Serena is not a great shooting team and the best way to stop a bad shooting team is to get every defensive rebound.”
Three Red Devils had five-plus rebounds as senior Austin Schmitt and Villarreal grabbed six each and Trevier had five.
Hall had its largest lead of the game at 50-34 with 4:35 remaining in the fourth, but Serena went on a 8-2 run as both team’s benches closed out the game.
Putnam County 66, Leland-Earlville 51
In the first half, fans were unable to tell which team was the No. 1 seed and which was unranked.
PC struggled to get into its offense and L-E was successful in taking its time moving the ball up the floor to not commit turnovers against PC’s three quarter-court press.
However, the Panthers from Granville still managed to lead 13-7 after the first quarter and 24-19 at halftime.
“It was a typical day after Christmas game,” Nauman said. “We looked a little sloppy and they looked like they had a day off. It seems to happen so often after Christmas. We tried to shoot around this morning. We showed up and they were waxing the gym floor, so we couldn’t get in the gym. We were a little rusty.”
The holiday sluggishness wore off quickly in the second half as PC scored 21 points in both the third and fourth quarters.
Senior Evan Kreiser was a perfect 10-of-10 from the field and went 2-of-2 from the free throw line for 22 points. The post player also grabbed six rebounds and had an assist, a steal and a blocked shot.
While the offense was swinging the ball around the court to free up open shots in the second half, the defense quickened and was able to create havoc for L-E whether it was being precautious or not.
PC finished the game with 19 steals and was led by junior Austin Biagini’s five takeaways.
“In the first half I thought we were giving them some trouble and giving good traps, but guys weren’t rotating to get into passing lanes quick enough,” Nauman said. “It was like we were a half-step slow and kept just missing getting steals. We started rotating quicker, getting where we were supposed to be and it was a lot better in the second half.”
L-E had trouble keeping up with PC in the third quarter as it was outscored 21-10, which included a 20-2 PC run.
L-E coach Jason Zaleski’s squad recorded the game’s highest-scoring quarter with 22 points in the fourth, but the hill was too steep for L-E to climb.
“A team with that fire power, it’s really difficult for us to come back from (a large run),” Zaleski said. “We’re still trying to find our offensive groove, so we like games to be upper 40s, low 50s at the most. When we’re giving up 60-plus points, it’s really difficult. Considering what Putnam County has been doing this year, I feel like the overall performance was pretty good tonight.”
Senior Harold Fay finished with 12 points for PC, while sophomore Alec Veverka and Biagini came off the bench to score 10 and nine points, respectively.
L-E was led by sophomore Colin Bomstad’s 21 points and five steals, while junior Nolan Baumbach knocked down four 3-point baskets en route to 15 points and dished six assists.
Marquette 45, Gardner-South Wilmington 38
The Crusaders had their work cut out for them in their first game of the tournament.
After establishing a lead and building it to 22-10 late in the second quarter, Marquette found itself in a battle.
The Panthers chipped away at the deficit, including an 8-2 run to end the first half, and followed it by outscoring Marquette 15-4 in the third quarter for a 31-28 lead heading into the final quarter.
“We played a pretty good first half. We got up by eight and then it seemed like our momentum went away in the third quarter,” Marquette coach Mike McDonald said. “We walked around, took some ill-advised shots, couldn’t get a shot to go down and they were starting to hit some wide-open looks.
“The next thing you know, they’re on top of us. In the fourth quarter, we told the kids to pick up their energy, and then our defense really led the way for us.”
G-SW scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to expand its lead to 36-28, but the Crusaders were not finished.
Senior forward Tyler Verona took the game over for Marquette as he attacked the offensive glass, turned a steal into a fast-break layup and made an assist to junior Michael Sypniewski for a corner 3-point basket to reestablish a Crusader lead at 41-38 with 1:47 remaining.
“Tyler did a nice job in there. We kept telling the guys, ‘If we get the ball in the middle, take it to the hoop’ because that six-to-eight foot shot was wide open,” McDonald said. “We brought Tyler out, showed him and he responded well. He took the game over down the stretch. That’s the kind of senior leadership we need.”
Verona scored eight of the Crusaders’ 15 points in the fourth quarter and had a team-high 12 points for the game. He also pulled down seven rebounds, had three assists and stole the ball twice.
The Marquette defense didn’t allow G-SW to score in the final three minutes to close out the game with a seven-point victory.
“We just decided to go full-court man-to-man and just kind of pick up the tempo for ourselves,” McDonald said. “We wanted to get us moving and it seemed to get them a little flustered.”
Dwight 57, LaMoille-Ohio 27
The Lions got outscored 18-2 in the first quarter and it never got much better for L-O in its tournament opener.
Brandon Morris scored a team-high eight points and grabbed a team-high four rebounds for the Lions.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.