The holiday tournaments are the midway marker for the prep season for boys’ and girls’ basketball as well as wrestling.
For the five Greater Alton schools it was a mixed bag of successes, but whatever the outcome it was a nice barometer to know where to plug the leaks for the second half.
Marquette Catholic girls’ hoops, Civic Memorial wrestling and East Alton-Wood River wrestling sat idle for the break, but everybody else competed in various events.
Starting with CM hoops, it was a fairly fruitful holiday. We can definitely say the eggnog is half full, not half empty for the Eagles.
The CM boys finished third at the Columbia-Freeburg Holiday Tournament, while on the girls’ side the Eagles were third at the Jersey Holiday Tournament. They both did the dance under the mistletoe in semifinals games but didn’t quite get to kiss the championship.
In Columbia, CM ran into a Triad team that caught fire. The Eagles had beaten the Knights 58-33 in the second game of the ‘15-16 season, but Triad recovered to topple CM 55-43 in the semis at Columbia and reach the finals before eventually finishing second.
The Eagles recovered on the final day of the tourney to defeat Freeburg 51-48 and nab third place.
“Third place is better than fourth place tonight,” CM boys’ head coach Doug Carey said after beating the Midgets. “I’d rather be playing in this (championship) game, but we’ll take what we got. We’ve had a pretty good first half of the season and our schedule toughens up in the second half quite a bit, so we’re going to have to play better and we will. We will improve and see where it goes in the second half.”
The Eagle girls ran into a talented Calhoun squad in Jerseyville during the semifinals. They got their wings clipped in a tight 54-51 loss. CM rebounded the next night to top Collinsville 65-39 for third.
“It was probably our most complete game of the season,” Eagles’ coach Jonathan Denney said after beating the Kahoks. “We defended and rebounded well, and Kaylee (Eaton) really had a great game and she’s capable of doing that.”
Eaton registered a game-high 18 points in the victory over Collinsville — all in the first half — including four 3-pointers.
Junior stalwart Allie Troeckler garnered MVP honors for the tournament, despite her team sitting on the outside of the championship game. Troeckler netted 98 points in four games for the Eagles.
Cast in the Buffalo/Tri-City Holiday Tournament, the Roxana Shells finished in fourth place there.
The Shells opened the tournament with a pair of pool wins but lost to Flanagan 66-38 in the semis and Mount Pulaski 48-38 in the third-place contest. They are now 8-8 on the season.
Marquette got a shot in the arm from senior guard Shandon Boone in the consolation finals at the Columbia-Freeburg Tournament. Boone drained a 3-pointer at the top of the key as the buzzer sounded to secure a 51-49 win for the Explorers and fifth place in the tourney.
Boone was an all-tournament performer, scoring 103 points in four games for Marquette. After opening with a 66-46 loss to Triad, the Explorers won their next three contests to go 3-1 in Columbia.
The Roxana boys’ squad dropped their fifth-place match to Benton, 47-34, at the Duster Thomas Hoops Classic in Pinckneyville. The Shells went 2-2 in the tournament, but their time in Pinckneyville was highlighted by senior guard Trace Gentry joining the 1,000-point scoring club at Roxana. Gentry became the ninth member on the elite list. Hunter Reine is the leader with 2,067 points.
As for the other teams, they had a rough go of it over the holidays.
The Alton girls did pick up a victory in their second game at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Tournament in Jefferson City, Mo. The Redbirds defeated Eureka 64-48 for their only win in the tournament. Seniors LaJarvia Brown and Jewel Wagner played well in the tourney. Brown was named to the all-tournament team.
As for the Alton boys, their 1-2 record at the Centralia Holiday Tournament was a big disappointment. After besting Raleigh Egypt of Tennessee 76-40 in their opener, the Birds lost their next two to fall short of a trophy game. They played in the title tilt a year ago, losing to host Centralia in the finals.
The East Alton-Wood River Oiler boys’ and girls’ faltered at the Carlinville Holiday Tournament also. Neither team was able to pull out a win in the four-day event, each going 0-4. It was a head scratcher that EA-WR senior Blake Marks was left off the all-tournament team though, after netting 100 points in four games in Carlinville.
There was some wrestling success for the area too, as Alton and Roxana competed in tournaments. AHS finished 13th as a team at the William “Red” Schmitt Holiday Tournament in Granite City, while the Shells finished 17th as a unit at the Lincoln Holiday Tournament.
For the Birds, junior KeOntay Holmes (182) and senior Keondrick Russell (195) each nabbed third-place medals. Connor Broyles (132) and Alejandro Lopez (145) were fifth.
Roxana had three medalists: Jarod Foiles (132) was fourth, Owen Robinson (285) was fifth and freshman Alex Maguire (138) took seventh.
There’s a quick glance at the holiday fun; now let’s hope that 2016 will bring plenty of success for all of the Greater Alton squads.
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