Pulaski edges Illini Central 54-53 in the Bill Rucks Tournament
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[November 21, 2017]
The Mount Pulaski Hilltoppers Basketball Team opened the 2017-18
season by hosting the Bill Rucks Tournament at the Ed Butkovich
Gymnasium on Monday night. The home team had to mount a comeback to
pick up win number one on the season. Mount Pulaski edged out the
Cougars from Illini Central 54-53 in a game that had fans on the
edge of their seats all the way to the final buzzer.
Both teams started the game with what appeared to be a little
first-game jitters. Senior Peyton Taylor of Mount Pulaski scored the
first bucket of the game as he pulled down an offensive rebound and
tossed it back in for two points with 6:10 showing on the first
quarter scoreboard. Taylor would go on to dominate the first quarter
with eight points scored to give Mount Pulaski an 11-6 lead.
Illini Central came charging back in the second quarter and took a
13-11 lead over the Hilltoppers after a layup by Max May around the
Buckets by Lane Johnson, Cole Wherley and May extended the Cougars
lead to 20-13.
A free throw by May would give Illini Central their biggest lead of
the game at 21-13.
The Hilltoppers went nearly five minutes without scoring a basket in
the second quarter. Finally Brandon Kretzinger connected for a three
around the 1:00 mark and Mount Pulaski trailed 21-16.
Two free throws by Johnson before the close of the quarter gave the
Cougars a 23-16 halftime lead.
Mount Pulaski came inching their way back in this one to start the
third quarter. Freshman Drew Martin scored his first Varsity points
of his career with a bank shot in the paint at the 7:15 mark to make
the game 24-18 still in favor of Illini Central.
Twenty seconds later Gezus Oliver hit a jumper and Mount Pulaski was
only down 24-20.
The two teams traded buckets evenly the next couple possessions,
with Illini Central maintaining a 28-24 lead.
Finally Mount Pulaski got the momentum to swing in their favor as
Martin tossed it in for two more points and then Trevor Hayes
quickly stole the ball from the Cougars and he ran down the court
with the game-tying layup with 4:17 left to play in the third
With the game knotted at 28-28 Mount Pulaski fans got on their feet.
Illini Central called a timeout as Mount Pulaski had outscored the
Cougars 12-5 and IC Head Coach Tony Wherley needed to get his team
Mount Pulaski Head Coach Ryan Diebert meanwhile was getting his team
fired up and no one came out of the huddle more ignited than senior
Seth Huff. Huff’s three pointer at the 3:39 mark gave Mount Pulaski
their first lead since the second quarter, 31-28 now the score in
favor of the Hilltoppers.
Mount Pulaski would get a three from Kretzinger to extend the lead
to 34-29 around 3:00 but then Brandon Higdon of Illini Central
launched one from out of nowhere and the Cougars were right back in
it, trailing just 34-32.
Mount Pulaski ran off five quick points to further the distance
between them and the Cougars, 39-32, now the Hilltopper lead.
May was putting on quite the shooting display for Illini Central and
his baskets kept the Cougars in the game. But another three from
Huff put Mount Pulaski on top 42-34.
One more layup from May would complete the third quarter scoring but
Mount Pulaski was still in control leading 42-36.
Quick fourth quarter baskets by Wherley and Johnson allowed the
Cougars to creep back in this one. With the Hilltoppers leading
44-40, May connected from long distance with back to back threes
giving the Cougars a 46-44 lead with 4:59 now left to play in the
[to top of second column]
Lane Dowell (22) and Peyton Taylor (45) face off in
the tip-off as Illini Central battled Mount Pulaski Monday night
in the Bill Rucks Tournament. The Hilltoppers edged the Cougars
Huff answered back with his third three of the game to put Mount
Pulaski on top again, 47-46. The Hilltoppers padded the lead on
buckets by Taylor and Hayes and with 2:40 remaining Mount Pulaski
looked to be in the driver’s seat leading 52-46.
A little late game foul trouble put the Cougars at the line. Illini
Central was a perfect 4 for 4 from the line near the end of the
game, making the score too close for comfort for Mount Pulaski fans.
Their Hilltoppers were just barely hanging on to a 52-50 lead as the
teams had crossed that last minute mark.
For the next 45 seconds the story was a potentially costly turnover
by Mount Pulaski followed by a missed shot in the paint by Illini
Fans on both sides were inhaling and exhaling with a bit of
nervousness but then with 11.5 seconds on the clock 6’8 Taylor threw
down a dunk for Mount Pulaski that brought the house down. His
“easy” bucket gave Mount Pulaski a little breathing room and excited
the Hilltoppers purple and gold fan section.
The Cougars were not about to be counted out though and “Mad Max”
May hit yet another three with two seconds left to make the score
Luckily for Hilltopper fans Mount Pulaski remained in control of the
ball those final two seconds and the buzzer sounded with the purple
and gold picking up the win. The final score 54-53.
Peyton Taylor’s solid performance of 16 points, 15 rebounds and 2
blocked shots led Mount Pulaski.
Senior Trevor Hayes tossed in 10 points for Mount Pulaski.
Illini Central’s Max May led all scorers with 24 points. Cole
Wherley chipped in 10 points for the Cougars.
The Bill Rucks Tournament tipped off at 5:00 p.m. with Springfield
Calvary defeating Central A & M 67-62 in game one. Porta then
doubled up on Tri-City to hand the Tornadoes an 80-40 loss in game
The tournament continues tonight with the following games scheduled:
5:00 p.m. Tri-City vs. Illini Central
6:30 p.m. Central A & M vs. Edinburg
8:00 p.m. Decatur LSA vs. Springfield Calvary
Mount Pulaski (54)
Peyton Taylor 16
Trevor Hayes 10
Seth Huff 9
Gezus Oliver 9
Brandon Kretzinger 6
Drew Martin 4
Illini Central (53)
Max May 24
Cole Wherley 10
Lane Johnson 6
Lane Dowell 4
Kyle Worner 3
Braden Higdon 3
Alex Marshall 2
Emilio Rivera 1