As baseball teams try to clinch a division championship or playoff spot, there is talk of a magic number. Ridgeview High School basketball coach Rodney Kellar has one in mind regarding Tuesday’s Class 1A Illinois State Super-Sectional at Redbird Arena.
“It (the winner) will probably be the first team to 50,” Kellar said of a 7 p.m. matchup between his seventh-ranked Mustangs (28-4) and No. 4 Annawan (29-3). “Actually, that will be the thing … will a team get to 50?”
Kellar posed the question because of the background at spacious Redbird Arena and the fact Annawan allows an average of 40 points per game.
The Braves are coming off a 64-53 upset of top-ranked Aurora Christian in the Ottawa Marquette Sectional, while Ridgeview defeated St. Anne, 57-52, for the Danville Schlarman Sectional title.
“I’m very impressed with their defense,” Kellar said. “Baskets are going to be at a premium. We have to get shots and then make shots.”
The Mustangs received 25 points each in the sectional final from 6-foot senior guard Justin Myers and 6-2 senior forward Jacob Donaldson.
Myers, a transfer from Normal Community, has an area-leading 21.7 scoring average and grabs seven rebounds per game. Donaldson adds 18 points and nine rebounds.
While Donaldson was a starter on last year’s super-sectional team, the experience will be new for Myers.
“New is good because new is excited. Justin brings that excitement,” Kellar said. “Everybody says Jacob and Justin, Jacob and Justin, and that’s true. They are key players stepping up when they need to.
“But I’m also excited about some of our other guys and what Matt (Nunamaker) and Alex (Tongate) and Levi (Zimmerman) will bring to the table. That will be the difference in the game one way or the other.”
Annawan has an all-senior starting lineup paced by 6-3 guard Owen Landwehr and 6-3 forward Ben Buresh.
Buresh had a game-high 26 points in the win over Aurora Christian, including four 3-pointers in the opening quarter. He finished with five and also grabbed eight rebounds.
Landwehr added 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
“They’re strong and athletic and experienced,” Kellar said. “They’ve been in the sectional three years in a row. Beating Aurora Christian speaks volumes.”
Ridgeview will play in its third super-sectional in four years. The Mustangs placed third in the state in 2015 and fell to Newark in last year’s super-sectional.
This year’s team owns wins over 2A sectional finalist Momence, a 25-2 Monticello team, a 25-3 GCMS squad and 26-6 Deer Creek-Mackinaw, which will play Tuesday in a Class 2A super-sectional.
“We’ve been battled tested,” Kellar said.
The winner moves on to the state semifinals at 11:15 a.m. Friday at Carver Arena in Peoria. Awaiting will be the winner of the DeKalb Super-Sectional between Providence-St. Mel and sixth-ranked Sterling Newman.