Cardinals cruise past Cobden
McKay's 31 points pushes Woodlawn to sectional title game
NORRIS CITY – On Tuesday night at the NCOE 1A Sectional, the Woodlawn Cardinals once again proved that the postseason is where they shine the brightest.

And 6-foot-1 senior guard Blake McKay was the guiding light.

The all-state candidate and 2,000 point scorer added to his prep story in the sectional contest against Cobden.

McKay led all scorers with 31 points as the Cardinals improved to a school record 31-3 on the season with a resounding 57-43 triumph over the Appleknockers in front of a near sellout crowd in Norris City.

The senior got his team off to a great start and he helped seal the deal late as they will play again Friday night against the winner of Wednesday night's Goreville vs. Okawville semifinal.

“I think that we bring confidence to the floor and we are just trying to keep it (the season) going as long as possible,” said McKay. “We are just enjoying it, playing the right way. It is our experience that is paying off. I remember our freshman and sophomore years we were 'thrown into the fire' and that has paid off for us now.”

Not to be overlooked in the victory was the defensive effort by Woodlawn.

The club got the stops they needed and kept Cobden from getting back the lead as they kept the edge though out the contest.

Coach Brian Gamber, in his fourth season as Woodlawn head coach, and his club are a win away from the program's seventh sectional title.

Six-foot-two senior Chase Hollenkamp added 11 points, including a pair of big time 3-point shots in the third quarter while Cobden was trying to mount a comeback.

But his forte, as it has been in his prep career, has been defense.

He led his defensive minded club by making things tough on the Appleknockers.

Six-foot-two senior Race Rynski also came up big with nine points in the win while junior guard Jackson Tiemann canned a pair of first half 3-pointers as Woodlawn never trailed after a big early run.

They were all part of a total defensive effort that secured the Cardinals a spot in the sectional championship game on Friday.

For Cobden and head coach Wendell Wheeler the dream of repeating what the 1964 team did, make it to the state finals, ended abruptly on Tuesday night.

Six-foot-six senior Joe Brumleve led the Appleknockers with 17 hard earned points while senior guard Dylan Lewey also finished his prep basketball career with 12.

Noah Franklin, a 6-foot-6 junior guard/forward, finished with 10 points as Cobden's season closed at 23-9.

The night, however, belonged to McKay and the Cardinals.

The senior guard got his club off to a great start on the first possession of the game, knocking down a 3-pointer from the right corner.

His bomb started a 10-2 run that gave Woodlawn the lead for good.

In fact, McKay scored all 10 of the points.

He added a drive to the basket for a score, yet another 3-pointer and then finished a fast break off of a forced turnover to lead by eight.

Tiemann nailed down the first of his two 3-pointers and Rynski also scored before the quarter ended.

Brumleve got a pair of inside shots to fall in the quarter while Lewey and Franklin finally got something going for the Appleknockers as the first horn sounded on a 15-8 Woodlawn lead.

The defense by Woodlawn made things very difficult for Cobden and it showed the entire game.

But to Cobden's credit they managed to hang close in the second quarter trailing by just seven at intermission.

McKay scored eight more points in the second quarter with two more 3-pointers and a score in the lane on an inbound pass.

When Tiemann nailed down his second trifecta, Woodlawn had it's largest lead of the half at 29-18 with just over three minutes left.

But Brumleve, with four late points on a score inside and a pair of free throws, cut the lead down to 29-22 at halftime.

Lewey opened up the third quarter with a big 3-pointer from the left corner as Cobden closed its only run of the night at 7-0.

Not only was his bucket the end of the run, it was also the last points the Appleknockers would score in the third quarter.

After McKay answered the run by making 3-of-4 free throws on two different trips to the line, Coach Gamber called timeout and made a switch that changed the momentum of the game back to the Cardinals.

Woodlawn's mentor switched defenses on Cobden, going to a full-court trapping defense.

The pressure forced Cobden into four costly turnovers, all of which became Woodlawn points.

McKay added yet another 3-pointer and Rynski cleaned up a McKay miss for a rebound basket.

The Cobden bench was assessed a technical with 2:24 remaining and McKay closed out the quarter scoring with two more charity tosses for a 39-25 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

The Appleknockers ended the quarter with four turnovers and four missed field goals as they trailed by 14.

“One possession could make a difference but when you get four of five (stops) that is big. That (defensive switching to a press) is something that we like to do,” said Coach Gamber. “We would have liked to have done that sooner but we didn't get to the free throw line enough to set it up. We were playing well in our man (man-to-man defense) but I think anytime you have the ability to mix it up and give them a different look it for a few possessions.”

Brumleve got a shot to fall while being fouled by Rynski in the lane with 6:24 to go and his three-point play got the Appleknockers to within 40-28.

That, however, was as close as Cobden would get.

Hollenkamp, with Woodlawn spreading the floor, found himself open from beyond the arc on consecutive possessions.

The senior drilled home both 3-point bombs, one from the right wing and the other from the left corner, which pushed the lead to 46-30.

“Chase is not afraid of the big moment. The shots that he took, he needs to take those,” said Coach Gamber. “When those went in those were daggers, they were game changers.”

Woodlawn took care of business the rest of the way.

Rynski added another score off of a pass from junior Hayden England and the trio of Rynski, Hollenkamp and McKay held on to the lead by hitting a combined 10-of-13 from the foul line in the fourth to close out the win.

“We have the ability to close games out and I knew with their size that if we could get a lead they would have trouble taking it from us and we have five guys who are shooting 75 percent or better from the free throw line,” said Coach Gamber.

The key offensive stat for Woodlawn was their 3-point line efficiency.

The Cardinals canned 10-of-21 from 20 feet and beyond while Cobden ended up with just 2-of-11 from the arc.

Overall, Woodlawn was 16-of-34 and committed just five turnovers, with just two in the second half.

The Appleknockers closed their historic season hitting 15-of-29 and they also held a 20-13 rebounding edge.

But 11 costly turnovers led to a lot of scoring opportunities for Woodlawn.

The Cardinals will face a familiar foe on Friday night as they have played both the Blackcats and Rockets this season.

Woodlawn split two games with Okawville, winning at the Carlyle Kaskaskian Classic back in December and losing a close game at home in January.

The Cardinals own a 72-67 win over Goreville at home back on February 1.

“For four years we have been building for this. We have boosted our schedule up. Coach Witzel (AD) has gotten us into tough games and tough tournaments. So we have played in a lot of big time atmospheres. It allows us to focus on what we are doing and what we need to do to win,” said Coach Gamber. “Our guys have seen it all. These juniors and seniors have seen everything. We have been up in games, we have been down in games and you just can't simulate that in practice. Our schedule preps us for games like this.”

1A NCOE Sectional Semifinals
Cobden (23-9)
Woodlawn (31-3)

Cobden (43)
– Franklin 2 1 3-3 10, Lewey 3 1 3-3 12, Remsey 0 0 0-0 0, T. Franklin 0 0 0-0 0, Brumleve 6 0 5-7 17, Lopez 2 0 0-0 4.
2FG-13, 3FG-2, FT-11-13, PF-16.
Woodlawn (57)
–Fewkes 0 0 0-0 0, Hu. England 0 0 0-0 0, Rynski 3 0 3-4 9, McKay 3 5 10-13 31, Hollenkamp 0 3 2-2 11, Tiemann 0 2 0-0 6, Ha. England 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-6, 3FG-10, FT-15-19, PF-16.
Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– Cobden Bench.