MARSEILLES — At Saturday’s Marseilles Holiday Tournament, a curious Kaden Nauman asked his father Josh, the coach of the Puntam County boys basketball team, if his father’s squad would play the “orange and black team” of Kewanee.
“Only if we both get to the championship game,” Josh told his inquisitive son before asking why Kaden asked.
“Because that No. 32 (Donovan Oliver Jr.) is pretty good,” Kaden said.
Because of Saturday’s performance, the Panthers will get to see Oliver Jr. first hand.
After PC rolled past Hall 76-48 in Saturday’s semifinals, the Panthers will get to use Kaden’s scouting report at 8 tonight as they will face Kewanee for the Marseilles Holiday Tournament championship.
In tonight’s title game, one thing the Panthers would like to change is another slow start, which PC had in the quarterfinals against Marquette and semifinals against Hall.
“We need to figure out how to prevent the slow start,” Nauman said. “If we could figure out how to start the game without an 8- or 10-point deficit we could be deadly.”
On Saturday, it was Hall and Ian Trevier with the hot start.
Trevier hit back to back 3-pointers early to give the Red Devils an 8-2 lead, but a pair of jumpers from PC’s Evan Kreiser and Alec Veverka cut the Hall lead to 14-11 by the end of the fourth quarter.
Two more jumpers from Kreiser gave the Panthers a 15-14 lead, but a drive and kick from Miguel Villarreal to Trevier for a 3-pointer gave Hall the lead back.
However, from there, it was all Panthers.
PC started with defense from Sam Garland, who blocked three Red Devil shots in the second quarter. Kreiser converted a three-point play followed by a steal and layup from Austin Biagini.
“It’s nice to have him back,” Nauman said of Garland, who missed the first few weeks of the season. “He’s getting better and better being his third game of the year. It seemed like when he blocked the one 3-pointer of Trevier, he was a little gun shy after that. We knew we had an advantage inside so we extended our guys out and cut down on the 3-point attempts.”
PC’s Michael Weide hit a 3-pointer from the corner and then Harold Fay found Garland for a layup that capped a 12-0 run that gave Putnam County a 27-17 lead.
Fay then began posting up and driving to help extend the lead to 31-20.
Hall got a much needed 3-pointer from Julian Barroso, but a desperation 3 from Biagini gave the Panthers a 38-24 lead at halftime.
The second half was all Putnam County as it cruised to the win.
“Getting beat by 30 points isn’t exactly how we drew it up,” Hall coach Mike Filippini joked. “But we told the kids this is a game we flush away. We’ve been playing well and we get to play for third place, but tonight was just a game where nothing went right. We played good defense on Fay and he loses the ball that happens to fall in the lap of Biagini. We’ll be fine and get back to business on Monday.”
For the game, Fay led PC with a game-high 21 points, while Veverka added 16 points and Kreiser 15.
Hall, which will play Dwight at 6:30 tonight for third place, was led by 14 points from Gaeta and 10 from Trevier.
Marquette advanced to the fifth-place game as it downed St. Benedict 53-43. The Crusaders will meet Reed-Custer for fifth at 5 tonight.
Earlier Saturday, LaMoille-Ohio downed Lexington 44-37, while Serena topped Leland-Earlville 58-48. LaMoille-Ohio will meet Serena at 10:30 a.m. for 13th place, while Leland-Earlville will face Lexington at 9 a.m. for 15th place.
Brad Martin Sr. can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.