Raiders, Hornets head north
Central A&M, Nashville punch tickets to Final Four
- For Central A&M head coach Rob Smith, what a difference a year made for him and his basketball team.

The Raiders came into their supersectional game last March against Goreville at SIU Arena flying high but they came crashing to the ground after a poor showing offensively in a 74-61 loss.

Coach Smith brought a club back to Carbondale a year older and better prepared on Tuesday night when they took on Sesser-Valier.

Using a big third quarter run and finally hitting enough free throws at the end of the game, Central A&M held off the Red Devils to advance to their first “Final Four” in boy's basketball with a 79-69 victory.

After hitting just 20-of-59 shots overall and 2-of-15 shots from the 3-point arc the last time they stepped on the SIU floor, the Raiders were much better getting their shots to fall on Tuesday night.

Central A&M ended up 28-of-46 with 5-of-10 from the arc as they improved to 32-3 on the season.

“I think this was a case of being a year older and more experienced coming into this game tonight and it really paid off,” said Coach Smith. “I thought our defense was outstanding until late in the game. About six minutes to go in the game we got passive and were afraid to foul so we gave them some driving lanes. Up until that point I was really pleased with out defense.”

Four of the Raiders were in double-figures, led by 5-foot-10 junior guard Jacob Pardee with 23-points.

Pardee was the driving force for Central, getting to the basket for scores as he connected on 8-of-10 shots from the floor and he nailed his only 3-point attempt of the contest.

Six-foot-four junior Connor Heaton tossed in 21-points for the Raiders while junior teammate Bryce Burgener made all four of his field goal tries, with three of those coming from the 3-point circle.

“They (Jacob and Connor) have been doing it (scoring) for two years now but unfortunately people (down here last year) didn't get to see it,” said Coach Smith. “And they are only juniors so hopefully we can get another year out of them.”

Six-foot-six junior forward Griffin Andricks did his damage on the inside as he muscled his way in for 13-points while dragging down 11-rebounds for a double-double.

However what could have been the best performance, at least for a stretch of the game in the third quarter, came from 6-foot-5 senior Austin Sloan.

Sloan guarded Sesser-Valier senior guard Tyler Winchester in a Box-and-One for parts of the game changing third quarter as they forced the Red Devils into four of their turnovers which helped produce a quick 8-0 run to begin the second half.

“We went “Box-and-One” with Sloan on Winchester. He is a great player and they do a great job of setting him screens and getting him looks,” said Coach Smith. “They put him in good positions to score but I thought we did a good job defending that.”

The Raiders nailed their first seven shots of the third quarter, which helped turn a 33-28 lead at intermission into their largest lead of the night at 51-33 with 1:59 left.

The sectional championship season for the Sesser-Valier Red Devils came to an end at 26-7 for head coach Shane Garner's club but they didn't go down without a fight.

Winchester closed his prep career with 21-points for the Red Devils and he led the team with eight rebounds.

Six-foot-three senior Seth Boles ended up with 15-points in his finale while sophomore Garrett Gunter came off of the bench to score 13.

Winchester nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter along with 6-of-6 free throws in a stretch that got the Red Devils to within 76-69 with just :13.9 left.

Paradee and Andricks combined to hit 3-of-4 after that to end the scoring.

Central A&M, who ended up just 18-of-35 from the foul line, managed to make 8-of-11 in the last 1:22 to seal the victory, the first supersectional title for the program.

Since the school's Assumption and Moweaqua consolidated for the 1992-93 season, the Raiders had never won a supersectional and have just a pair of sectional championships in their possession

However the Raiders now head to Peoria for the first time.

“Their length and athleticism was impressive and Paradee was a much better athlete than what we gave him credit for. We knew going in that we needed them to miss shots from the outside for us to have a chance. But they hit them, and it wasn't just one or two guys it was all of them hitting shots,” said Coach Garner. “When you have length like they have and you can go inside and finish at the rim but also knock down perimeter shots like that, you're going to be pretty hard to beat.”

The Red Devils got out to an early lead as Boles nailed his first shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the right corner

A bucket from Winchester, another score from Boles and a lay in from junior Logan Kirk gave Sesser-Valier what turned out to be their largest lead at 9-6 with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.

Andricks did early damage to the Red Devils inside, scoring three times in the paint in the opening frame.

Paradee and Heaton also got to the rim during a 6-1 run for a 14-10 advantage.

The Red Devils, as it turned out, got their final lead after buckets by senior Eli Gunter and Boles.

Boles turned his basket into a three-point play and a 17-16 S-V lead.

Central A&M took back the lead for good with a 10-2 run with Andricks scoring inside again and baskets by Burgener in transition and Heaton on a rebound of his own missed shot.

Two more field goals by Paradee and the Raiders led 26-19.

Sloan and Winchester traded 3-pointers to close the first half at 33-28.

Paradee opened the third quarter with a fast break score which triggered the blitz that gave the Raiders control.

Heaton then converted three straight shots, two in transition and one on a nice spin move in the paint for a 41-28 lead which forced a Sesser-Valier timeout with 5:26 left.

Burgener nailed back-to-back 3-point bombs and Heaton added another score in transition off of another Red Devils' turnover.

It was their seventh consecutive made field goal to start the half as the Raiders held an 18-point spread.

“I'm super proud of the way our guys kept fighting. We dug our way out and got it back to around ten but it was a little too late,” said Coach Garner. “Of the games we watched, they (A&M) had done that to almost every team. They always a little spurt in the third quarter where they would put it on (teams) and get some transition buckets and then it is over from there.”

Coach Smith's squad could have made quick work of the Red Devils in the final frame had they been more accurate from the foul line.

Central A&M was just 15-of-28 in a bogged down fourth quarter, which allowed Sesser-Valier to hang around longer than the Raiders wanted.

“We are a very good free throw shooting team. It was really frustrating because we could have put the game away,” said Coach Smith. “We got an 18-point lead and I think if we had put some free throws down we could have ended it much sooner. But Shane's kids kept playing hard like we knew they would.”

The two teams ended up with a combined 48 personal fouls called, with Sesser-Valier being whistled for 29 of them.

Coach Garner's club ended up 22-of-51 overall (43.1 percent) and 7-of-22 from the arc (31.8 percent).

The smaller Red Devils held their own on the boards, losing that battle 33-27.

They also weren't good from the foul line, connecting on just 18-of-28.

The Raiders will meet a state-ranked Cissna Park team that crushed Yorkville Christian, 76-46 to win the 1A Normal Supersectional title on Tuesday night.

The Timberwolves have won 10-of-11 games and are 31-4 overall.

Cissna Park played four games at the Pinckneyville “Duster Thomas Classic” back in December as they beat Elverado, Steeleville and Benton to win the fifth place bracket, while losing to 3A Salem in the quarterfinals.

“We had a lot of guys this year that matured who had never played varsity basketball before, and they worked hard and put themselves into position to have some success,” said Coach Garner. “It was a lot of fun and I'm really going to miss this team. This was a team that was extremely fun to coach. They gave me everything they had ever practice and every game. I think the kids will look back someday at the things we accomplished and be proud of what we did.”

1A Supersectional
Central A&M
Sesser-Valier (69) – Boles 3 2 3-3 15, Winchester 2 3 8-11 21, E. Gunter 1 0 1-2 3, Kirk 1 0 0-0 2, Bates 0 2 0-0 6, Gavin Gunter 0 0 0-0 0, Woodland 2 0 0-2 4, Lance 0 0 0-0 0, Galloway 0 0 0-0 0, Garrett Gunter 5 0 3-4 13, Newbury 0 0 0-0 0, Eubanks 1 0 3-6 5.
2FG-15, 3FG-7, FT-18-28, PF-29.
Central A&M (79) – Andricks 5 0 3-7 13, Hutchins 2 0 1-3 5, Paradee 7 1 6-13 23, Heaton 8 5-6 21, Sloan 0 1 0-0 3, Burgener 1 3 3-6 14.
2FG-23, 3FG-5, FT-18-35, PF-19.

Fouled Out – E. Gunter, Woodland - Sesser-Valier.
Technical Fouls – None.
- The Nashville Hornets opponent on Tuesday night at the 2A Carbondale Supersectional had averaged just over 57 points a game in four postseason victories.

However Coach Wayne Harre's Hornets held Teutopolis well below that mark as the top-ranked team in the state and the 2A ABV rankings, shut down the Wooden Shoes in a 41-28 win at SIU Arena.

Nashville senior Bryce Bultman and junior Carson Parker scored 10-points each and the defensive minded club held Teutopolis to 12-of-36 from the floor as they advanced to play at Carver Arena for the seventh time and their ninth overall trip to the finals.

The Hornets came into the game giving up just 30.7 p.p.g. on defense and it showed on this night against a state-ranked and ABV second-ranked team.

Focusing on the defensive end of the floor all season long, Nashville improved to a school record 34-2 with the victory.

For the Wooden Shoes, it was yet another bitter supersectional defeat.

Teutopolis has now lost six consecutive supersectional games dating back to 2010-11 with the loss on Tuesday night.

Six-foot-seven senior Clint Weber carried the load for Coach Chet Reeder, scoring 12-points to lead T-Town.

Dawson Smith, a 6-foot-6 senior guard, managed just eight-points as those two standouts closed out their prep careers.

Focusing their attention on those two players, Nashville forced a lot of long range shots from Teutopolis.

And the Wooden Shoes weren't good from the arc, either, hitting just 3-of-17 with sophomore guard Evan Wermert hitting two of them.

The Hornets were much more offensively efficient, nailing down 15-of-29 and 3-of-7 from long range.

“It was two county boy teams out there battling. Both teams played tremendous defense but fortunately we got some easy baskets in the second half, I thought that was a key,” said Coach Harre. “I thought our kids rotated and got to the open spots. The credit goes to the kids. I got the best assistant coaches in the state and the kids buy into the system.”

One of the key components to the Hornets 2018-19 run has been the ability for their other starters and reserves to make shots when Bultman and Parker are defended well.

Five other Hornets combined to hit 7-of-12 shots from the field, including 3-of-6 from the 3-point line.

“It's a great feeling when your shooters (teammates) are knocking down shots. It puts more pressure on the defense, they can't really help out. We kick it out and it is tough to stop,” said Bryce Bultman.

With both teams struggling on offense in the opening quarter, Nashville junior guard Tristen Hercules hit his only shot attempt of the night.

His 3-pointer tied the game at 5-5.

Six-foot-six junior forward Terry Pelczynski stepped off the bench and canned a 3-point bomb to give the Hornets the lead at 12-9 with 4:52 to go before halftime.

Nashville would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Parker scored on a pair of foul shots and a drive to the basket while Bultman added a score in the paint.

When junior Matt Anderson, also a reserve, tossed in a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, the Hornets completed a 12-2 run over a 17-9 lead in the second quarter.

Weber scored all four of the Wooden Shoes points in the frame and Bultman closed the half with a reverse lay in for a 19-11 halftime lead.

Nashville expanded the lead in the third quarter, getting consecutive scores from Parker and another bucket by Anderson.

A Bultman score on a leaning baseline shot, while being fouled by Weber, pushed the lead back to double-digits.

Although Bultman missed the foul shot, Nashville headed to the final eight minutes up 29-18.

“Having (Parker and Bultman) them out there, it makes you look good as a coach because you can't coach that. Sometime you just let them go and let them get a feel of the game,” said Coach Harre. “They are like coaches on the floor for us.”

Teutopolis had its chances in the third quarter to cut into the deficit but they ended up just 3-of-12 in the quarter from the field.

The Wooden Shoes put together a rally to get closer in the final minutes.

Wermert hit a 3-pointer, his second of the game, Weber scored on a lob in the paint and Smith scored while being fouled.

His three-point play got T-Town to within 33-26 with 4:01 left.

Six-foot-six senior Tanner Bergmann, however, made a great play by grabbing a missed free throw by Bultman and scoring in the paint to extend the lead.

T-Town's final bucket, and the final points of Weber's career, came on a rebound two-handed dunk with 1:34 remaining.

The Hornets took no prisoners in the final 1:29, hitting 6-of-8 from the foul line.

Teutopolis missed their final four field goal attempts as its season ended at 29-6.

Nashville won the rebounding battle, 26-17, with Parker grabbing eight.

“This is a great feeling, I hope we can keep it going,” said Bryce Bultman. “We knew we had to come out and play tough. We had to be physical to win the ballgame. We had to come out and stop two good players; Smith and Weber. I thought we did a really good job.”

In sharp contrast from the opening game of the night, only 21 total fouls were called and just 17 free throws attempted combined.

Nashville will face Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on Friday night at 5:30 pm at Carver Arena.

The Falcons beat Pleasant Plains, 52-37, to win the Springfield 2A Supersectional.

GCMS is 32-2 and are riding a 31 game winning streak and they haven't lost a game at full-strength.

Many of the cagers were on the gridiron when the Falcons won the 2A state football championship back on Thanksgiving weekend.

The basketball losses came that first week of the season at their own Thanksgiving Tournament without their top players in uniform.

2A Supersectional
Teutopolis (28) – Ungrund 1 0 0-0 2, Wermert 0 2 0-0 6, Smith 2 1 1-3 8, M. Hardiek 0 0 0-0 0, Weber 6 0 0-2 12, Hanson 0 0 0-0 0, Will 0 0 0-0 0, Drees 0 0 0-0 0, Probst 0 0 0-0 0, J. Hardiek 0 0 0-0 0, Simmons 0 0 0-0 0, Hoene 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-9, 3FG-3, FT-1-5, PF-12.

Nashville (41) – Bergmann 1 0 0-0 2, Hercules 0 1 2-2 5, Harre 2 0 2-4 6, Bultman 4 0 2-4 10, Parker 4 0 2-2 10, Morris 0 0 0-0 0, Maschhoff 0 0 0-0 0, Donato 0 0 0-0 0, Goforth 0 0 0-0 0, Pelczynski 0 1 0-0 3, Turner 0 0 0-0 0, Anderson 1 1 0-0 5.
2FG-12, 3FG-3, FT-8-12, PF-9.

Fouled Out – Smith - Teutopolis.
Technical Fouls – None.