Christopher dominates Devils
Bearcats romp to second-straight regional crown, 71-41
For the Sesser-Valier Red Devils and head coach Shane Garner, the feeling heading into the title game of the Crab Orchard 1A Regional was of optimism.

Having won 11-of-13 games, including an 85-81 overtime win over their Friday night opponent and Franklin County rival Christopher back on February 14, the feeling was warranted.

The signs pointed to a chance of getting back to the sectional after a one-year hiatus.

However on this night Christopher had the Devils number.

In fact, it was more like numbers.

Coach Eric Stallman's Bearcats completely dominated this contest from midway into the first quarter until the final horn in the fourth.

Behind 22-points from senior guard Kaeleb Pedigo and 14-points and 16-rebounds from 6-foot-4 junior forward Bradley Young, Christopher punished the Red Devils in every phase of a 71-41 win, the second consecutive regional title for these 'Cats.

Not only was the rebounding of Christopher dominant, the Bearcats offense was Rembrandt like as they painted a championship picture with few flaws.

The figures were staggering.

Christopher ended up 24-of-33 overall (72.7 percent) from the floor, which was very impressive shooting.

But they were 21-of-25 from inside the arc.

“We shot 84 percent from two's tonight, if you do that you are going to win some ballgames,” said Coach Stallman. “We got good, quality shots. We were patient; we were cutting to the basket. Our goal is no empty possessions.”

They also managed to grab seven of those missed shots on offensive rebounds, part of a 33-9 total mismatch on the glass.

To make matters even worse for S-V, Young dished out six assists for the Bearcats, most of which resulted in easy scores inside.

When the dust had settled the Bearcats had moved into the sectional semifinals next week at Norris City-Omaha-Enfield.

“Our guys played outstanding tonight and we got a lot of contributions from a lot of people. We just want to keep it going,” said Coach Stallman. “We have some tremendous rebounders with Young and Curry. And our guards rebounded well tonight, they scrambled around for those long rebounds. That is just effort and that was awesome.”

This outcome was determined early as the Red Devils had no answers against the Bearcats' offensive output.

Coach Garner's club got 13-points from junior Lukas Gunter.

But the 5-foot-11 guard earned every one of his points.

No other Red Devils player hit for double-digits as sophomore guard Tyler Winchester finished with eight-points and senior Charles Farmer ended his prep basketball run with seven.

S-V struggled from the floor, hitting just 17-of-46 overall (36.9 percent) and they could muster just five offensive rebounds.

Young actually out-rebounded Sesser-Valier himself.

“The better team won the game tonight, absolutely,” said Coach Garner. “We talked coming into this game that the team that made plays tonight was going to win and they (Christopher) made plays. Young was by far the best player on the floor. He dominated all night. Whether it was scoring or passing. Hat's off to Coach Stallman. They just played a great game.”

Sesser-Valier got back-to-back buckets by Gunter and Winchester to take a brief 9-7 advantage.

However things were starting to heat up for the top-seeded Bearcats.

Six-foot-five junior Jared Curry netted 17-points for Coach Stallman's club.

He hit one of just three 3-pointers for the Bearcats to trigger a 10-1 run.

Pedigo scored on a drive in the lane and Young converted a three-point play while being fouled by Sesser-Valier's Jamie Lance.

Freshman Bryce Pratt took one of Young's passes for a lay in and a 17-10 lead.

Gunter scored in the final seconds of the quarter to narrow the gap to just five at the horn.

That drive pretty much ended the S-V highlight reel, as Christopher took complete control in the second quarter.

The Bearcats got their first double-digit lead when Young made a steal in the backcourt and raced to the goal for a two-handed slam and a 26-16 spread with 3:40 to go before the half.

After a pair of free throws by Farmer, Christopher closed the half with seven-straight points.

Two of the scores were from Curry on a drive to the goal and yet another offensive rebound.

Another transition basket off of a Red Devils' turnover by senior Gabe Schimpf gave the Bearcats a 33-18 lead at intermission.

A 3-point basket by Farmer to open up the second half and a quick turnover by Christopher against the Devils' press gave some hope to the Sesser-Valier faithful.

That hope evaporated quickly in the next three minutes.

Scores by Curry and Pratt got the offense going again and Young added four points on a spinning move in the lane and pair of free throws.

Pedigo took yet another Young assist for a three-point play and a 44-26 lead with 3:32 left in the third quarter.

An 8-2 run with Pratt scoring twice, once on a nice assist from Pedigo along with another Curry bucket, kept the Bearcats hot.

Pedigo put a wrap on the third quarter domination with another fast break lay in and a 52-30 lead.

Coach Stallman saw his team parade to the foul line in the final eight minutes and the Bearcats didn't disappoint anyone wearing Orange and Blue in the stands.

Christopher went 14-of-16 from the stripe to close out the game.

Pedigo finished his scoring on the night with a 3-pointer from the left corner and another lay in, turning Young's pass into an assist.

When the senior guard netted a pair of foul shots, Christopher led 67-37 just before the benches were emptied.

The Bearcats will face Gallatin County on Tuesday night at Norris City-Omaha-Enfield.

The Red Devils night run ended at 18-14.

“Seasons are 'up and down' and I guess that is what makes them fun. But it is also what makes it nerve racking,” said Coach Stallman about his team's losing streak (six-games) and their long winning streak (11-games) during the season. “Hopefully we can get rolling again.”

Sesser-Valier (41) – Farmer 1 1 2-2 7, Basso 0 0 0-0 0, J. Gunter 1 0 0-0 2, L. Gunter 6 0 1-2 13, Winchester 1 2 0-0 8, E. Gunter 0 0 0-0 0, Baxter 0 0 0-0 0 , Launius 1 0 1-1 3, Boles 1 0 0-0 2, Lance 3 0 0-0 6, Page 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-14, 3FG-3, FT-4-5, PF-18.

Christopher (71) – Snell 0 0 0-0 0, Pedigo 6 1 7-7 22, Schmipf 2 1 0-0 7, Motsinger 0 0 0-0 0, Young 4 0 6-9 14, Pratt 5 0 1-2 11, Dunford 0 0 0-0 0, Curry 4 1 6-6 17.
2FG-21, 3FG-3, FT-20-24, PF-12.

Fouled Out – Lance - Sesser-Valier.
Technical Fouls – None.