By Matt Nestor
While schools were off for the holidays and the NIC-10 teams took a break from the holiday schedule, the basketball teams still stayed plenty busy during their down time.
All the teams played in holiday tournaments, all with varying degrees of success.
No team came out of the holiday break in better shape than the Hononegah Indians.
The Indians entered the break with a tough home loss to the Boylan Titans. It was a game the Indians led most of the way and was their first conference loss of the season.
After a 10-day break, Hononegah departed for the State Farm Holiday Classic, a deep tournament field that included defending Class 3A state champion Champaign Centennial, one of the best teams in the state, as well as several other top teams in the state.
The tournament started with a 67-46 thrashing of Thornwood, followed by a 56-49 win over Mahomet-Seymour. In the semifinals, the Indians defeated North Chicago by a score of 88-54 to make their way into the finals.
In the championship game, Hononegah faced a much taller team in Centennial. While the defense played well against the high-flying Centennial team, the offense was non-existent in a 46-25 loss.
But the Indians played well overall in finishing second in the stacked field. Stanley Moore earned a spot on the all-tournament team with his stellar play, averaging more than 15 points per game in the tournament.
Jefferson performed just as well during their holiday break. They started with a 79-48 demolition of Chicago North Grand in the first game of the DeKalb Holiday Tournament.
The J-Hawks, much like Hononegah, played well en route to an appearance in the title game. They beat Burlington Central 65-54, Lasalle-Peru 47-41 and Geneva 42-39 on their way to an appearance in the championship.
Jefferson jumped out to a lead in the title game against host DeKalb, grabbing a 5-point lead at halftime and were up three entering the fourth quarter. But they couldn’t hold back the DeKalb barrage, falling 65-60 in the title game against one of the better teams in the state.
Mario Manns led the way for the J-Hawks to the title game, averaging double figures throughout the five tournament games.
Mt. Carmel and Richwoods entered the Pekin Holiday tournament as the favorites, despite the Boylan Titans coming in as the top seed. And Carmel and Richwoods didn’t disappoint, meeting in the championship, with Richwoods winning the tournament.
But for Boylan, they did not play as well as they had hoped in the tough field, finishing in sixth place after dropping their second game of the tourney 64-57 against Washington. Boylan also lost 58-56 against eventual third-place winner Morton.
The Titans did manage two wins in the tournament, defeating Lake Zurich by a score of 65-36 and Lanphier 91-77. The Titans were led by Chris Miller, who averaged 17 points per game on his way to a spot on the all-tourney team.
The East E-Rabs continued their improved play in the DeKalb tournament, showing quality depth in wins over Huntley, Wilmington and Dixon. The Auburn Knights went to Elgin and struggled in their tournament. After winning two games over Elgin and Hoffman Estates, the Knights dropped their final two games of the tournament.
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From the Jan. 6-12, 2010 issue