The Beloit Trojans and Austin Budke played their best basketball of the season for three quarters.
Beloit built a 23-point point lead and held off Maize South’s amazing rally for a 74-68 victory in Friday’s championship game of the 41st Sterling Basketball Invitational. The Mavericks’ 37-point fourth quarter and Kade Kordonowy’s hustling 33-point night kept the pressure on the Trojans.
All-tournament pick Budke, a 6-foot-5 power forward, muscled inside for 24 points and eight rebounds against Maize South’s 6-9 Brett Barney and 6-3 Kade Kordonowy. Payton Vetter added 20 points. Beloit’s attack-the-basket mentality led to 31 of 38 free throw shooting, which gave the Trojans a 15-point edge.
“We wanted to attack the basket and get them in foul trouble,” said Budke, who shook several hard fouls to make 12 free throws. “It was a physical challenge playing a bigger-class team. It ended up being the type of game we expected.”
Beloit’s quickness and teamwork converted 14 Maverick turnovers into 21 points, for a 14-point advantage. Hunter Post led Beloit with four assists and Budke and Vetter each dished three assists.
“For three quarters, that’s the best basketball we’ve played all season,” Budke said. “But you have to give Maize South a lot of credit for rallying.”
R.J. Jackson handed Beloit a 50-27 lead with a minute left in the third period. But Maize South coach Kip Schultz went to Plan B when he substituted five fresh faces to start the fourth quarter.
Schultz was looking for a spark because his starters were playing flat defensively. Kordonowy, using an effective hesitation move, and Barney were carrying the offense.
Enter sharpshooter Kellen Filby. Filby ignited the Mavericks’ near miraculous rally with three consecutive 3-pointers. Jack Domnick and Peyton Ricks dropped in 3-point bombs and suddenly the Mavericks had scored 15 points to cut the 23-point lead to 55-46 with 4:30 left.
“We were flat, so I decided to sit the starters out,” Schultz said. “I didn’t know what else to do. Filby hits three in a row and we finally started competing like we are capable. They did a good job denying Filby after that.”
Beloit (10-1) never panicked despite the Mavericks’ furious rally. The Trojans made 19 free throws in the fourth quarter, including their final 15 points. Budke was 12 of 16; Vetter 8 of 9 and Caleb Palen 6 of 6.
“We kept attacking the basket, which is what we wanted,” said Beloit coach Ryan Eilert. “When the guys had a chance, they passed really well and made them foul us. We continued to hit free throws. We were pleased how well we responded tonight. We played about as well as we could play for three quarters.”
Eilert gave credit to the Mavericks (4-6).
“We would’ve liked to change what they were doing, but they started hitting shots and got the momentum,” he said. “It was more about how well Maize South was playing than anything we were doing wrong.”
The Mavericks made six 3-pointers in the fourth period and mixed in hard drives, which helped them convert nine free throws. Once the Mavericks started playing more aggressively, the calls finally swung their direction. Kordonowy’s 3-point play and score well after contact with 2:10 left was a call you’d see in the NBA.
The Mavericks outscored the Trojans 30-15 from long range.
“We wish we could’ve done that sooner,” Schultz said. “We showed we were capable of competing at Beloit’s level. But we waited until the end to match their intensity. We’re a young team that’s still figuring out how to play.”
Kordonowy was stunningly left off the All-Tournament team despite his 33-point, 11-rebound night. Barney scored 12 points. The Mavericks made 21 of 49 field goals, 10 of 22 on 3-pointers.
Beloit dominated the first half to lead 33-22 behind Budke’s 14-point half. The Trojans effectively worked an inside/outside offense by pushing the ball into the paint, and knocking down four 3-pointers.
* Independent 67, Lyons 53 (Third place) – Trey Williams scored 21 points and Matthew Loveland scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Independent past Lyons for third place. The Panthers (10-3) led 32-30 at halftime and outscored the Lions 35-23 in the second half.
Lyons (5-8) made 5 of 16 free throws, 2 of 9 in the second half. Matthew Vincent (12), Ryan McClure (12) and Luis Rascon (11) all scored in double figures.
* Sterling 52, Bluestem 49 (Fifth place) – Austin Maxwell scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Black Bears. Kirk Engelland chipped in 15 points. Riley Galyon dished out four assists to lead a 14-assist game for the Black Bears.
Bluestem’s Brett Elsen scored 12 points and Travis Farthing added 10 points.
* Remington 50, Hutchinson Trinity 48 (Seventh place) – Paul Janzen broke a 48-48 tie with the game-winning basket with 11 seconds left. The Celtics turned the ball over on its final possession.
The Broncos outscored the Celtics 21-7 in the fourth quarter after trailing 41-28. Remington’s Caleb Tanner was named Clair Gleason Most Inspirational Player for the second year in a row. Tanner scored 22 points.
Trinity’s Nathan Eisenbarth scored 15 points and nailed four 3-point goals. Remington converted 23 Trinity turnovers into 21 points. The Celtics made 9 of 17 free throws.