CHAMPAIGN - CPCI fans wore brand new "Blue Navy" T-shirts Saturday night, a response to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's "Red Army" cheering section.
CPCI seemed to have every answer on the court as well in the championship game of the Sangamon Valley Conference Basketball Tournament.
The Timberwolves used an aggressive defense to force 16 GCMS turnovers in the first three quarters, building a 43-26 lead on the way to a 59-37 victory at Parkland College.
No. 16 state-ranked CPCI (21-2) held the Falcons to 30 points below their 67.3 scoring average.
"We hang our hat on defense, and in the pre-game we were really focused on coming out and being the aggressor defensively - setting the tone," CPCI coach Kevin Long said.
"In championship games I think the first team to get into rhythm is going to have the advantage."
CPCI senior guard Justin Steffen scored 19 points, including 11 of 11 free-throw shooting, and junior Landon Reutter added 15.
Reutter had nine in the first quarter, with his 3-pointer at the buzzer giving the Timberwolves a 15-9 lead. He added a basket in the second quarter as CPCI extended the cushion to 27-16 at the half.
GCMS (19-3) committed five turnovers in the first quarter, four in the second and seven in third while seeing its 14-game win streak snapped.
"Lately we've been struggling offensively, and a lot of times when you struggle offensively, your defense struggles, too," Steffen said. "Tonight, we just came out and played really hard defense and it kind of jump-started our offense."
The first to get going was Reutter, who was 3 of 3 from the field in the opening quarter and scored his team's final six points of the period.
"It felt great," Reutter said. "In practice we've been shooting quite a bit and I broke out, I guess. We were flowing well in the offensive transition. Our defensive intensity gave us momentum."
Senior center Jordan Hurliman added 11 points for CPCI, which was 14 of 20 from the foul line and outrebounded the Falcons, 28-25.
Senior guard T.J. Hendricks and 6-5 senior center Brett Petersen scored eight points each to pace GCMS.
"They were able to control momentum for just about the entire game," GCMS coach Ryan Tompkins said. "We just were never able to get anything going.
"Their fullcourt press - they did a nice job. As a team we turned it over and made some errant passes. We played back on our heels a lot offensively. I give them a lot of credit. They came out and established the game on both ends of the floor."
Milford 63, PBL 50
Brad Kunce led four players in double figures as Milford pulled away from PBL in the second half to win the third-place game.
PBL (12-12) received a game-high 23 points from Tyler Overstreet, while Jon Wallace scored 12.
Milford's Patrick Laffoon and Curtis Marcott each scored 11 points, while Andrew Cook added 10.
Milford grabbed a 19-7 first-quarter lead before PBL cut the margin to 31-25 at the half. Milford used an 18-11 thir- quarter run to take a 49-36 lead into the final period.
Tri-Valley 52, St. Thomas More 41
David Cripe and Kyler Hardy scored 11 points each as Tri-Valley used a strong second half to upend St. Thomas More in the fifth-place game.
Tri-Valley (18-5) led 17-15 lead at the half before the Vikings outscored the Sabers 17-8 to extend the margin to 34-23 after three quarters. The Vikings protected their lead in the fourth quarter with Cripe hitting 7 of 8 free throws.
Chris Johnson scored 10 points to lead St. Thomas More.
Watseka 60, Fisher 55
Fisher fought back from a big first-quarter deficit but came up short against Watseka in the seventh-place game.
Kayl Thomas scored 12 points and Kyle Wantland 11 to lead Fisher (11-11). Watseka had a game-high 19 points from Matt Pace.