Boys Basketball

‘Everyone will remember this time:’ Indian Creek holds off Somonauk for Little 10 tourney title

SHABBONA - Given the circumstances of his team’s victory in the 102nd Little 10 Boys Basketball Conference Tournament, Indian Creek guard Cam Russell said it’s going to be a championship that will carry extra meaning.

“It feels great, especially at a time like now with masks and COVID and everything,” Russell said. “Everyone will remember this time and it’s nice to be able to get this one in.”

The Timberwolves held off a Somonauk rally for an 83-73 win on Saturday, the second straight tournament title for the Timberwolves.

“This feels great,” Piekarz said. “We were talking before the game this may be the first trophy in the state of Illinois that was handed out. There’s not many that are handed out. So this was one of the big highlights of the season, getting the opportunity to win the Little 10, especially for these seniors.”

The Timberwolves (5-0) won the tournament last year en route to a 35-1 season and Class 1A supersectional appearance.

This year’s team is also an impressive model, said Somonauk coach Curt Alsvig.

“I think we played great,” Alsvig said. “I think we stepped up to the challenge. Indian Creek goes (35-1) last year, and I think they’re probably, if they’re doing rankings this year, probably a top 5 team or top 3 team. So I thought we played well. Stepped up, and our guys want to go above, but it didn’t happen tonight.”

The game was back-and-forth early, with the Bobcats (2-2) leading 15-12 after a layup by Brendan Roberts. But the Timberwolves scored 11 of the next 13 points to take a 23-17 lead late in the first quarter.

While they would only trail one more time in the game, the Timberwolves also couldn’t get the lead over 10. Drew Gaston’s layup with 3:21 left gave the Timberwolves their first double-digit lead of the game at 73-63 before the Bobcats started coming back.

“That is where the veteran leadership helps,” Piekarz said. “That’s where having played in a sectional final and close games like this for the last three years helps. They’ve been here before and they know how to finish a game and that’s exactly what they did tonight.”

The Bobcats got the lead down to five on a 3-pointer by Brock Zimmerman and a layup by Roberts. Roberts then jumped a pass and seemed poised for a layup with 1:40 left, but Piekarz called a timeout before it happened. Russell’s layup pushed the lead back to 75-68.

Alexander Krejci made things interesting with a 3-pointer, then drew a charge, then hit a pair of free throws with 50.8 seconds left to cut the IC lead to 75-73. But Russell hit a couple free throws, Krejci couldn’t connect, Brendan McNally secured a rebound and the Timberwolves preserved the win at the line.

“They’re a super-skilled team so they don’t have a lot of weak points,” Alsvig said. “I think we had some opportunities o get a lead and get ahead and we just couldn’t capitalize. They had some shots fall and they played super hard.”

Russell said the Timberwolves got the stops when they needed them.

“We just buckled down at the end, and Somonauk is a really great team. They just played their hearts out,” Russell said. “We just played the best defense we could, shut them down and got the win.”

By the numbers: Roberts, Krejci, and Payton Wyant all scored 18 for the Bobcats, while Parker Wasson got 11 off the bench. Gaston scored 25 and Russell 21 for the Timberwolves, with Brennen McNally 18 and Michael Lampson 10. Somonauk’s last lead of the game was after Wyant opened the third quarter with a layup, putting the Bobcats up 34-33. A layup by Russell and a 3-pointer by Lampson and the Timberwolves never trailed again.

Beyond the stats: Krejci took a spill in the third quarter and had to be helped to the sideline before coming back into the game.

They said it: “Probably the hardest working I know,” Alsvig said. “I’m so glad he got a season this year and glad he seems to be OK. Don’t know if it was a spasm or a buckle. Obviously having him out those 3 or 4 minutes there doesn’t help us. But other guys stepped up tonight.”

Up next: The Timberwolves are at Leland on Monday, while Somonauk is at Hiawatha.