2A boys basketball: Fieldcrest tops Manteno in sectional semifinal

Knights use key spurts to start the 2nd and 4th quarters in defeating Panthers

Fieldcrest's Brady Ruestman hits a slam dunk as the fan section goes wild Tuesday during the Knights' 53-37 victory over Manteno in the IHSA Class 2A Clifton Central Sectional semifinal game.

CLIFTON – Fieldcrest junior point guard Jordan Heider was pumping his fist even before his pass touched senior forward Brady Ruestman’s hands.

Then a moment later, Ruestman was rising for a thunderous two-handed slam dunk to complete a 6-0 run to begin the fourth quarter and kick-start the Knights to a 53-37 victory over Manteno in Tuesday’s Class 2A Clifton Central Sectional semifinal.

Fieldcrest, now 33-1 and winners of 23 straight games, will play in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday against with winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between unbeaten Beecher (32-0) and Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (30-3).

“As a coach, I try and get a feel for the game in the first half and then make adjustments at halftime. I felt like we had Manteno scouted pretty well, so the only adjustment I said to the kids at the break was we needed to make more layups,” Fieldcrest coach Jeremy Hahn. “We missed several point-blank shots in the first half, but I feel like we cleaned that up in the final 16 minutes.”

The Knights held a solid eight-point lead (38-30) heading to the final quarter. Connor Reichman scored off a back-door cut 16 seconds into the quarter, and Nathan Cook sank a layup on the next possession, both off Ruestman assists. Then off of one of the Panthers’ 16 turnovers in the game, Heider found Ruestman all alone near the hoop for a dunk.

Ruestman finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a pair of blocks. Ed Lorton paced the Knights with 14 points, while grabbing six rebounds, while Reichman came off the bench to net 13 points. Jozia Johnson added six points and Heider five points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“Connor had an outstanding game for us tonight,” Ruestman said. “He hit a couple of huge 3s, one from way deep, in the second quarter which really got all of us going. He was also really active on the defensive end, creating havoc. He came in and gave us the spark we needed in the first half.”

Manteno, which ended the season at 26-5, was led by a game-high 15 points and five rebounds by Nicky Johnson

“We knew they were going to try and run [Ray Lee] off a bunch of screens to get him looks from the perimeter and [Johnson] liked to shoot the mi-range jumper,” Ruestman said. “Coach Hahn said he felt if we could limit touches for those two guys, we’d be OK. I guess we did a pretty good job on them.”

Lorton had seven points in the opening quarter as the teams played to a 13-all draw. Reichamn started the second with a long 3 from the top of the key, before Lorton and Heider converted drives to push the Knights lead to seven.

Fieldcrest held a 27-20 lead at halftime and 38-30 heading to the fourth.

Fieldcrest finished 21 of 47 (45%) overall from the field and committed just eight turnovers, none in the second half.

The Panthers finished 13 of 40 (33%) and won the rebounding battle 36-29.

Hahn said there is not too much to do now but have two good practices and be ready to go Friday.

“At this time of the year, what are you going to change? We are going to stay with who we are, work to get better in practice the next couple of days, and then come here ready to play on Friday.

“Like we have all year, we just have to control the things we can control.”

Fieldcrest's Ed Lorton draws a foul as he manuevers to the basket under pressure from two Manteno defenders Tuesday during the Knights' 53-37 victory over Manteno in the IHSA Class 2A Clifton Central Sectional semifinal game.