PONTIAC - Jake Krause couldn't have envisioned a better start for his Pontiac High School basketball team Wednesday night in its opening game of its 75th annual holiday tournament. The Indians came out on fire, hitting 17 of 27 shots in the first half for 63 percent to build a 17-point halftime advantage and hang on for an 81-71 victory over Oak Park-River Forest.
"We hit some shots early that got us off to a big lead and we needed it to hang on," said Krause. "I thought we got some turnovers early and some easy baskets here and there with our press. We didn't stick with it long, but it was effective when we did use it."
The victory was Pontiac's 11th straight without a loss and moved the No. 9-seeded Indians into a 7:30 quarterfinal matchup tonight against No. 1 seed Chicago Simeon.
Junior Kevin Lyons made a tournament-record seven baskets from 3-point range in nine attempts to finish with a career-high 27 points. His previous best was 17.
Lyons made 5 of 6 shots, including five in a row, from 3-point range and a pair of free throws for 17 points in the first half. Rayme Mackinson scored 13 points for Pontiac in the first half and ended with 17 points and a team-high six rebounds. Kody Strong added 14 points, while Eric Davis had five assists.
"I didn't know how many I had," said Lyons of his 3-pointers. "I was surprised they left me so wide open early because they were at our last tournament (at Watseka) and their coach said they were going to be on me as soon as I walked out of the locker room."
Oak Park managed to cut Pontiac's lead to 74-68 with 1:49 remaining, but couldn't get any closer. Lamont Sanders, who scored 16 of the Huskies' first 18 points, had 17 points in the first half. He ended with 23, while Daniel Barnes had 16 and Iman Shumpert added 12.
"They got off to really good start," said Oak Park coach Al Allen, whose team has a 7-3 record.
Pontiac finished shooting 61 percent from the field, while the Huskies made 50 percent.
"I was very impressed with Pontiac," added Allen. "They played very well and did exactly what their coach expected of them."
Curie 59, BHS 53
The No. 12-seeded Condors (7-4) turned up the defensive pressure early in the second quarter and handed the No.5-seeded Purple Raiders (7-3) an upset loss.
BHS owned a 12-point lead early in the second quarter when the Condors put on a fullcourt press and fought back to a 35-32 halftime deficit. Curie tied the game at 49 with 4:57 remaining before finally taking the lead, 55-53, on a pair of Robert Sankey free throws with 53.6 seconds to go.
The Purple Raiders missed two shots and a pair of free throws before Donovan Foster and Darreon Ingram each made two free throws in the final 21.3 seconds to seal the victory.
"This is a huge win for a bunch of young kids," said Curie coach Michael Oliver. "We got down early, but we didn't quit. We used a 1-3-1 defense early, then when they got comfortable with us in it, we went to our fullcourt press and tried to force turnovers."
The Condors forced BHS into 15 turnovers, including 12 in the final three quarters. The Purple Raiders also missed all six of its shots from 3-point range in the second half.
"We tried to focus on not giving them wide-open looks on 3s," added Oliver. "We knew they were a good shooting team. We tried to scramble things up on defense to throw them off their rhythm.
"We saw them play at Hillcrest and felt we could pressure them because they were kind of shaky with their ballhandling."
The Condors won despite shooting 35 percent from the field, while BHS made 49 percent. However, Curie was 17 of 24 from the free throw line, while the Purple Raiders were only 2 of 4.
"We played hot potato again," said BHS coach Ron Rose, whose team was the defending champion. "We didn't get to our spots and we didn't have guys flash to the middle the way they were supposed to. We lost our composure when we had the ball. We were in a rush where we didn't find the open man.
"Curie really took us out of our rhythm offensively. The first quarter we had great rhythm. We were moving the ball, finding the open man and hitting shots. After that, the press got to us. It
(the press) wasn't anything we weren't prepared for."
Curie was led in scoring by Ingram's 18 points. Sankey came off the bench to add 14 and Marlon Murphey had 12. Kendall Ducree and Renaul Manning each had seven rebounds to give Curie a 32-27 edge.
Lonnie Lawrence had a double-double for BHS with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Justin Bocot led the Purple Raiders with 18 points, while Cory Hainlen handed out six assists.
"During a timeout, I made the comment that we had to get someone else besides Lonnie rebounding," said Rose. "We had one guy on the boards too often. Without Lonnie, it wasn't even a game.
"Curie made plays at the end of the game and we didn't. We had a lot of defensive breakdowns and they made us pay. We weren't real smart with the ball at the end. We have a number of areas we need to address and get better at if we're going to be a good team.
"Right now, we are struggling to get over the hump because of decision-making and fundamentally we break down too often. It will be interesting to see how we respond (today)."
The Purple Raiders meet Schaumburg in a 2:30 p.m. consolation bracket. Schaumburg defeated BHS, 71-54, two weeks ago.
Lockport 51, Schaumburg 47
Bruce Durham scored 21 points to lead the No. 13-seeded Porters to an upset of No. 4 Schaumburg (9-2).
"We're a young team," said Lockport coach Larry Thompson. "I didn't know if these kids had the fortitude to beat a quality team like Schaumburg."
The Porters scored 22 points in the second quarter to take a 28-22 halftime advantage. Lockport was aided by a pair of technical fouls on Schaumburg in the second quarter. The technicals seemed to turn the tide the Porters' way.
Lockport shot 55 percent from the field, but didn't make a 3-pointer. Grant Monroe paced Schaumburg with nine points.
Simeon 53, Lake Forest 29
The Scouts (3-6) hung around top-seeded Chicago Simeon (5-2) until the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Simeon only had a 35-29 lead before it closed out the game by scoring 18 unanswered points.
Derrick Rose scored 16 points to lead the Wolverines. Tim Flowers added 14 points and eight rebounds. Simeon forced 18 turnovers and admitted to only six. The Wolverines also had 13 steals.
Manual 65, Joliet 58
The Rams (8-2) placed three players in double figures to take care of the Steelman (6-3). Breland McKnight led Manual with 18 points, while DeAndre Mack added 16 and Kiyne Dunnigan had 14. D.J. Dantzler topped all scorers with 19.
Warren 81, Lane Tech 37
Marcus Lewis scored 19 points as No. 2 seeded Warren (9-0) had no problem with Lane Tech (6-3). The Blue Devils used a 29-point third quarter to extend a 36-15 halftime lead to 65-24. No Lane Tech player scored in double figures as the Indians were limited to 29 percent shooting.
East Moline 53, Danville 46
The Panthers (7-3) overcame a 22-19 halftime deficit to knock off Danville (6-3). East Moline outscored the Vikings, 14-4, in the third quarter for a 33-26 lead and never trailed again. Kendall Burrage led the Panthers with 19 points, while Eric Cogdill added 17. Jonathon Reed topped Danville with 11 points.
Aurora West 60, Niles West 51
The No. 3-seeded Blackhawks ran their record to 8-0 despite a lackluster defensive performance against Niles West (3-8).
"I was disappointed in our defense," said 30-year Aurora West coach Gordon Kerkman. "We aren't going to go very far in this tournament if we don't play better defense."
Both teams shot 50 percent from the field, but Niles West admitted to 10 more turnovers, 21-11. Johnny Walker led a balanced Blackhawks' scoring attack with 13. T.J. Marion added 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Victor Colon paced Niles West with 18 points. Frank Theodorakakis had 15 points and nine rebounds. Mik Garcia added 13.