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East Peoria Times-Courier - East Peoria, IL
  • Metamora, Canton stop East Peoria

  • The East Peoria boys basketball team could not sustain a solid start Friday.

    Tied late in the first quarter at Metamora, the Raiders made 10 second-period turnovers to trail 34-12 at halftime.
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  • The East Peoria boys basketball team could not sustain a solid start Friday.
    Tied late in the first quarter at Metamora, the Raiders made 10 second-period turnovers to trail 34-12 at halftime.
    The Redbirds pushed the lead as high as 37 points on the way to a 68-38 Mid-Illini Conference victory.
    "Credit them," EPCHS head coach Matt Wright said of Metamora. "They were the ones who changed the pace of the game and we didn't respond well to that pressure."
    Karson Buckley had eight points to top eight Raider scorers.
    Sean Mulhern added seven points for the visitors and Kieran Buckley six.
    The Redbirds missed eight of their first nine shots, and East Peoria took advantage as 3-pointers by Mitch Gnehm and Karson Buckley helped establish an 8-5 edge.
    "We were more patient offensively than we had been," said Wright of the first seven minutes. "We came out more structured."
    The Redbirds ran off six consecutive points in the last 50 seconds of the opening quarter to go ahead 11-8.
    A 9-0 Metamora run created a double-figure margin with less than three minutes left until intermission.
    Raider Benett Crim snapped the streak with a steal and lay-up at the 2:36 mark to make it 23-12.
    The Redbirds, however, followed that transition basket with 11 points in a row, including two JR Dixon treys.
    The start of the third period was a continuation of that spree with 15 more points making the total Metamora spurt 44-4 in a span of 14 minutes, 42 seconds.
    With 4:37 remaining in the third, Wright changed the whole line-up, sending in five substitutes.
    "I thought the second unit played extremely hard. I appreciated that," Wright said.
    Players such as Aaron Scully, Crim and later, Hayden Burtis, were active with the minutes they received.
    "We got deflated for the first two-three minutes of the second half," said Wright. "It's an effort thing. I hope one thing people say is we play hard."
    Buckley used five straight points to end the Redbird string.
    Mulhern chipped in five points of his own in 1:15 as East Peoria trimmed the deficit to 52-23 at the end of the third.
    The fourth quarter was fairly even until an 8-0 Raider surge got the guests as close as 61-38 with two minutes to go.
    Burtis hit a deuce and a triple in a 28-second sequence before a Kieran Buckley field goal. Reid Meeks then split two free throws for the second time in the second half.
    Metamora scored the last seven points to set the final.
    East Peoria surpassed the 50-point mark twice at the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament — in a loss to Chicago Englewood and in a win over East Moline United Township.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We had nice spacing. It was nice to see," Wright said. "That's fun basketball to watch."
    For that kind of offense to return, the Raiders need to make progress to play multiple good quarters and then a complete game.
    Among seven Redbirds with six points or more, reserve Dixon was the game leader with 12.
    Canton 47, EP 42
    The Raiders had the lead at halftime Saturday, but the resurgent Little Giants prevailed.
    Michael Thompson had a breakout game with 13 points to lead all participants.
    East Peoria (1-7, 0-4) still was tied until Canton won the final quarter by a 14-9 count.
    Karson Buckley had nine points, all on 3s, and Mulhern eight in easily the Raiders' best league result of the season.
    East Peoria was especially proficient at the 3-point arc, shooting a high percentage with eight long-range baskets.
    Mason Goforth guided Canton with 10 points.
    The Raiders have a 13-day break before concluding their pre-Christmas conference schedule Dec. 21 at Dunlap.

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