By Blake Faith
The Mt. Zion boys basketball team won the 2021 Taylorville Holiday Tournament against Sterling 68-65. The Braves went 4-1 in their route to the championship.
The Braves picked up wins against Taylorville, Eisenhower, Dunlap and Sterling. Their lone loss came to Galesburg.
In the championship game, the Braves were down 32-20 to begin the third quarter. Lyncoln Koester nailed a three-pointer to begin the third quarter and then nailed another one to narrow the lead to 34-27.
Sterling responded when Andre Klaver found John Schilling for a mid-range bunker and three-pointer to extend the lead to 39-29. Lucas Austin then grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a mid-range jumper to make the score 41-31.
The Braves started their run behind Brayden Trimble’s grit and playmaking ability and Ethan Hamrick’s scoring abilify. Trimble found Jack Driscoll for a floater that cut the lead to 41-33. Hamrick then nailed two free-throws and Trimble added a three-pointer.
Trimble then put defensive pressure on Sterling and rebounded on the offensive end that created opportunities for Hamrick. Hamrick went on to score seven of the last 11 points of the third quarter for the Braves including a three-pointer that cut the lead to 49-47. Trimble then blocked a shot on the defensive end that set up an out of bounds play that all-tournament team member Carson Cuddy finished with a layup to tie the game at 49-49.
“ He’s (Trimble) a very good athlete, as a freshman, he’s only going to get better. We got a couple guys that can make plays like that. But you know, he’s just so athletic, and he understands the game so well,” Head coach Dale Schuring said. “Matter of fact, the three freshmen are playing but they truly understand the game and it’s so huge.”
The fourth quarter belonged to the Braves after the momentum gained from the third quarter. Hamrick gave the Braves a lead when he nailed a three-pointer that made the score 52-52. Koester then made a steal and made a driving-layup to make the score 54-51.
Koester went on to nail back-to-back three-pointers that extended the lead to 60-53. Hamrick added a layup to put the Braves up 62-56. Hamrick finished with 21 points and six rebounds. Koester finished with 24 points.
The Braves took a 66-56 lead and held ok to it after facing pressure from Sterling Sterling went on a 9-0 run that was finished with a Schilling three-pointer that made the score 66-65. Koester was fouled and went to the line and nailed both free-throws to make the score 68-65 and give Mt. Zion the championship.
“It’s the impression we’ve had from the last couple of games that we played here is we got everybody back now we’re healthy, we’re deep. And we’ve got the ability that if you’re not playing well, I have someone that’s gonna play better. And we found the combination tonight,” Coach Schuring said. “We found that same combination earlier today to beat Dunlap. Because we were down to them as well. We’ve got to come to play and come to compete. Because if you’re not, I know I got somebody on the bench that’s going to do it. And that’s the lesson they got to take from this. We’re going to use our depther and there might be a night that 10 players play. Or maybe I only got five that want to compete, but we’re gonna find them.”
The Braves improve to 10-3 on the season and will face St. Thomas More and Effingham and will compete in the Clinton Shoot-Out this week. Coach Schuring said that the takeaways from
the tournament are his team is going to find ways to win on any given night and that his team can be a more aggressive defensive team.
By Blake Faith