BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington High School's Colton Sandage didn't know if there would be a Senior Night for him this season.
“In my head I wanted it to happened, but I didn't think it was going to happen,” he said. “I told (BHS coach Micheal) Mosley when he came to see me the day of surgery I was going to come back. He said, no, take your time. I said I can't do that. I told him I'm coming back no matter what.”
In his second game back from ACL surgery on his left knee, the 6-foot-2 guard made it a Senior Night to remember at the Robert Frank Sports Complex. Sandage scored a game-high 18 points as the Purple Raiders rolled to a 97-70 victory over Peoria High in a Big 12 Conference game.
Chris Payton added 16 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as BHS, ranked No. 8 in the Class 4A state poll, improved to 19-7 and finished 8-2 in the Big 12. The Raiders are off until next Wednesday's Rock Island Regional semifinal.
Sandage wasn't the only BHS senior who enjoyed their final home game. Patrick Fisher contributed 16 points, while Rayquon Fuller had 14 points and seven rebounds. Chris Pugh added 12 points, while Tyler Washington scored 8 and Nyan Ware 7.
About the only downer was BHS missing a couple 3-point attempts in the final seconds in an effort to reach the century mark. Mosley said it was no disrespect to Peoria (8-17, 3-7) and coach Dan Ruffin.
“This is the most seniors we've had, seven, and we wanted to allow them to play and give them a chance to say goodbye to these fans who have been so supportive of them the last four years,” said Mosley.
BHS made it look like the NBA All-Star Game as the Raiders scored on layup after layup and dunk after dunk.
“We felt lanes were open and the dribble-drive was actually working,” said Mosley. “We were getting in the paint easy and we were finding shooters.”
Sandage wasn't sure if he would ever make another 3-pointer. The Texas-Arlington recruit scored two points in his first game back last Friday and missed his first four attempts outside the arc Tuesday.
But when he finally swished a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, the crowd roared its approval. Mosley noted that Sandage's surgery came four months and two days ago.
“It felt good. I had a couple air balls before that,” said Sandage, smiling. “I just had to get my game legs back. They were trying to get me in a rhythm the whole game. I finally hit one. It was awesome.”
Sandage showed no fears with his knee, which he injured scrambling during a football game, as he crashed to the floor several times while going hard to the rim.
“I think my physical trainer might kill me a little bit, but that's just how I play,” he said. “If I play my game I'm going be on the ground and going to the hoop.”
BHS opened a 33-19 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter before the Lions cut the margin to 33-26. Payton's rebound basket and dunk pushed the Raiders' lead to 37-26 at the intermission.
BHS quickly put the game away to start the second half. The Raiders used a 22-7 run in the first three minutes en route to a 35-point quarter, taking a 72-47 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We were moving the ball really well,” said Mosley. “We didn't turn it over much in the second half and we were finding our scorers. And we got Colton going as well, which we wanted to do.”
Peoria, which committed 21 turnovers, was led by junior forward Cortez Mosley with 17 points.