Fieldcrest boys basketball coach Jeremy Hahn stood back and took in the scene Saturday at Hall High School.
After the Knights pulled away in the second half for a 62-42 victory over Rock Falls in the Colmone Classic title game, he enjoyed watching his players as they passed around the trophy, taking pictures and celebrating with friends and family.
“It feels tremendous,” Hahn said. “I’m so proud of the kids. They work so hard. It means a lot to me to watch them with the trophy and getting to have this experience. That’s the coolest thing for me.”
The win gave the Knights’ their 13th Colmone title and first since 2014.
“It feels really good,” said Fieldcrest senior Brady Ruestman, who was named tournament MVP. “Sophomore year we came into this tournament as a bunch of underclassmen, and this year we came in as the upperclassmen with two years’ experience with almost everyone starting, so it feels like the struggles have paid off.
“It means a lot [to continue the Fieldcrest tradition]. When I was younger they were always winning this tournament, so being bale to win it is great and we’re hoping other younger kids are looking up to us.”
The Knights took charge of the title game early in the third quarter.
After a tight first half that featured seven lead changes ended with Fieldcrest up 24-21, the Knights opened the second half on an 11-2 run.
“We really stressed we had to do a better job on the glass,” Hahn said. “They’re so athletic and so good. We knew we had to come out with a little better intensity on the defensive end. We’re always talking about finishing defensive possessions with rebounding, and I think we did a little bit better job there and cleaned that up a little bit. We were able to get a couple stops and make a couple shots. We were tight, I think, coming out in the first half. We made a couple shots coming out of halftime and I think that gave us the cushion that gave us a little bit more comfort and allowed us to play a little bit more free.”
Ruestman started the opening run with a post bucket and his tip-in of a missed shot gave the Knights a 35-23 lead with 4:49 left in the third, causing Rock Falls coach Zach Sandrock to call timeout.
“I thought the first half we did everything we wanted to do,” Sandrock said. “Our defense was pretty good. We shut them down and for the most part made them take forced shots, and that’s what we were looking to do. We took care of the ball a little bit better. Then that second half, they got on a roll. We didn’t execute on either end of the floor and you can’t let a good team like Fieldcrest have that little stretch to get that lead.”
The Knights led 49-32 after three quarters and pushed it to 20 with a 3-pointer by Nathan Cook 36 seconds into the fourth. Fieldcrest led by at least 15 the rest of the way.
“We swung it around, found whoever was getting hot and gave them the ball and just played team defense,” Ruestman said about the second half.
Eddie Lorton scored 16 points for Fieldcrest, Ruestman had 15 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, Jordan Heider had 12 points and Connor Reichman contributed 10 points.
Kuitim Heald and Ayden Goff had 10 points each for Rock Falls.
Along with Ruestman being MVP, other all-tournament selections were Reichman, Heald, La Salle-Peru’s Josh Senica, Mendota’s Izaiah Nanez, Princeton’s Noah LaPorte, Bureau Valley’s Corban Chhim, Marquette’s Alec Novotney, Rock Falls’ Gavin Sands and Pontiac’s Riley Weber.
La Salle-Peru 88, Mendota 47: After suffering a 27-point loss in Friday’s semifinals, the Cavaliers came out strong, scoring the first seven points and opening the game on a 17-2 run.
La Salle-Peru led 27-12 after the first quarter and 49-20 at halftime. The clock ran the entire fourth quarter with the Cavs leading by more than 30.
The Cavs drained 18 of 31 3-pointers, including 8 of 14 from Jack Jereb, who led the team with 24 points. Josh Senica had 23 points and eight rebounds.
“I’m proud of the kids for coming out tonight and playing as hard as they did after the loss we had last night,” L-P coach John Senica said. “I think we played a lot better. We came out and we did what we wanted to do. We ran our offense tonight. The last couple games we’ve been pretty stagnant, and I thought our movement with the ball and without the ball was pretty good. I thought we played better defense.”
Aiden Tillman hit 5 of 7 3s and scored 17 points for Mendota, while Izaiah Nanez had 11.
“I thought (Friday) night we played really hard in the second half to try to come back,” Mendota coach Steve Wasmer said. “We’re not real deep, so we didn’t have a ton of energy. They just shot the cover off the ball. That kind of deflated us early.”
Princeton 52, Pontiac 43: The Tigers led 27-15 and 41-25 after three quarters before holding off a Pontiac rally in the final eight minutes.
Noah LaPorte scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Princeton, while Jordan Reinhardt contributed 12 points.
Hall 73, Marquette 71: The game was tight throughout with Marquette leading 20-16 after one and 33-31 at halftime before the Red Devils took a 49-44 lead into the fourth where they held off the Crusaders in a high-scoring quarter.
Payton Dye led four Hall players in double figures with 20 points, while Braden Curran scored 14 and Max Bryant and Joseph Bacidore each had 10.
Denver Trainor scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Marquette, while Alec Novotney scored 18 points.
Bureau Valley 64, St. Bede 44: Corban Chhim scored 19 points and Elijah Endress had 17 as Bureau Valley rolled to the victory.
Alex Ankiewicz led St. Bede with 12 points.
Putnam County 51, Stillman Valley 48: Orlando Harris scored 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and had three assists to lead Putnam County.