Springfield handed East Peoria a boys basketball season-opening loss Nov. 23 on the first night of the State Farm Tournament of Champions.
Three Raiders were in double figures in the fifth annual tournament at Washington, but the Senators emerged with a 67-55 victory.
Springfield won 20 games last season. The Methodist Medical Center Invitational matchup featured the 2009-10 third-place finishers from the Mid-Illini and Central State Eight conferences.
Joe Kelch of East Peoria was 7-of-8 on free throws to score a game co-leading 16 points.
Like Kelch, Corey Crotz also sank a trio of three-pointers to account for 13 points. Dylan Sparkman, who was 6-of-6 at the line, added a dozen.
Mark Gilchrese led Springfield with 16 points.
Washington 77, EP 66
The Raiders lost a Mid-Illini Conference game Nov. 24 as play continued in the Tournament of Champions.
Four East Peoria players were in double figures in the high-scoring MMCI matchup.
Sparkman led the Raiders with 18 points and Crotz chipped in a career-high 17. They were a combined 15-of-18 on free throws.
Kelch notched 12 points and Walter White 11. White’s three triples led an East Peoria squad that made eight.
Sparkman also had a team-high totals of six rebounds and four blocks, but the Raiders’ two-game winning streak against the Panthers was snapped.
Charlie Zimmerman provided six of the team’s eight bench points.
East Peoria was proficient from the field (.487) and at the charity stripe (.800).
Ben Ryan of Washington led all scorers with 23 points.
Chandler (Ariz.) Basha 70, EP 52
The Bears used an 11-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter Friday to post an MMCI win.
“I thought we had the momentum going our way,” EPCHS head coach Ron Kelch said. “We missed some shots and we panicked a little when we missed a few.”
East Peoria drew within 45-43 after a 6-0 run in 1:18 to end the third quarter. Bryson Stewart, Crotz and Kelch all had baskets.
“We had a hard time scoring in the third, but we ended it with a nice flurry,” said Kelch.
Basha led 62-47 with three minutes to go before a three by Kelch, who topped all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
The Raiders got no closer than a dozen points the rest of the way against the team that advanced to the title game.
White drilled two threes in the last two minutes of the first period to help lift East Peoria to an 18-15 edge.
The Raiders expanded their lead to seven, 26-19, as Robbie Rogers connected on a pair of shots. He had seven of his nine points in the first half.
Page 2 of 2 - Nice passing led to a Rogers bucket at the 4:57 mark of the second quarter before a Kelch three restored the advantage to 31-25. The seniors combined for all but one of East Peoria’s points in the frame.
Good ball movement, Kelch said, ignited the Raiders’ 31-point bonanza in the first 11:33.
The Bears then embarked on an 11-0 spurt before Kelch canned the second of two technical-foul free throws to set the halftime score at 36-32 in favor of Basha.
The Bears continued their momentum with nine of the first 14 points of the third quarter. The only interruption was a Kelch deuce and Crotz trey for a Raider mini-run halfway through the third.
Turnovers were costly for East Peoria.
“That’s tough. You’re not going to beat anybody turning the ball over 19 times,” said Kelch.
The coach said the team’s overall play improved, just like it did in the second game.
One of the main purposes of playing in the tournament comprised of high-level programs is to get ready for conference games, and Kelch said it is definitely helping.
Basha was led by Torren Jones, who had 17 points before getting ejected in the fourth quarter.
Champaign Central 68, EP 58 (OT)
The Raiders lost in an extra session to the Maroons Saturday morning.
Sparkman made 9-of-11 field goals in a 19-point, 16-rebound performance.
Kelch provided 15 points and four assists and Crotz 14 points and a pair of steals.
Clayton Jones tallied 32 points for Champaign Central, but East Peoria held Purdue University recruit Jay Simpson to nine on 4-of-15 shooting.
The Raiders now are 3-8 in three appearances at the Tournament of Champions.