Boys' county teams end season in regionals

Boys’ county teams end season in regionals

By Eric Becker

EAST ALTON (March 1, 2018) – The 2017-18 boys’ basketball season has officially closed in Macoupin County as far as team competition, although several individuals remain alive in the Country Companies Three-Point Showdown.

The last team left standing, Southwestern’s Piasa Birds, battled hard but came up short in the regional championship Friday night at East Alton-Wood River High School.

Top seeded Trenton Wesclin hung on to defeat the Birds’ 45-37.

Southwestern finishes the season at 21-8, 8-1 in conference play. Wesclin advanced further along into sectional play, and will host Anna-Jonesboro on Tuesday.

The Birds’ leading scorer, Justin Bailey, got in first half foul trouble and was held scoreless. He got two fouls in the first quarter, and got his third foul just 80 seconds into the second quarter.

E.J. Kahl’s three-point hit early gave Southwestern an early 5-3 lead, but that would be the last time Southwestern would be on top in the game.

Wesclin countered with a 14-0 run, getting four three-pointers in the first quarter from four different players – Mick Stephens, Brandon Courtney, Hunter Ottensmeier and Nate Brede. The Warriors led 17-7 after a quarter.

While the Warriors were held to just three points in the second quarter, Southwestern was able to make a bit of a dent into the deficit.

Caden Heyen scored all seven of Southwestern’s points in quarter two, as the Birds pulled within 20-14 at halftime.

Wesclin scored the first five points of the third quarter, and Southwestern got as close as seven midway through the third quarter.

It was the Warriors taking a 32-22 lead to the fourth quarter.

The lone consistent scorer for Southwestern was Heyen, who got the Birds within 35-30 with a three-point hit midway through the final quarter.

The Birds had a chance to get it closer, but missed a shot. Wesclin countered with a 6-2 run over the next three minutes, and led 41-32 with just over a minute left.

Southwestern got a Caleb Robinson three-pointer with 57 seconds left, and a Bailey drive to the hoop with 44 ticks left to make it 41-37.

The Birds would not score again and Wesclin made four of six free throws in the final 37 seconds to win the regional championship.

Heyen had 18 points for Southwestern. Ben Lowis had seven and Bailey finished with six points. The Piasa Birds made 15 of 43 from the field and four of five free throws with eight turnovers.

A balanced offensive attack helped guide Wesclin, led by Stephens with 14 points; Ottensmeier with 11 and Brede with 10 points. The Warriors made 14 of 35 from the field and 12 of 24 free throws, with just four turnovers.

Lowis had seven rebounds and Heyen had five boards. Bailey, Robinson and Kahl all had two assists.

Three-point competition 

Six county individuals remain alive in the Country Companies Three-Point competition.

In Class 1A, Mt. Olive’s Nick DeVries, as well as Matthew Weidner and Elijah Dannenbrink, both of Bunker Hill, advanced to sectional competition.

Class 2A competitors from the county advancing were Sam Mount of North Mac; Brady Kinder of Staunton and Lowis of Southwestern.