ST. CHARLES – Willowbrook went back and forth for three straight quarters against Proviso East in Saturday’s championship game of the St. Charles East 61stannual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament.
Unfortunately the damage done in the first quarter could not be undone, as the Warriors fell, 69-57.
“We played them even the rest of the way,” Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins said. “It was just the bad start and settling in and getting adjusted to the speed of the game. Once we did, we were fine the rest, but we were never able to make that run to cut into it.”
Each team scored 47 points after the first quarter, but the Pirates had a particularly strong start, outscoring the Warriors 22-10 and leading by as many as 16 in the opening half.
“Coach told us to get on them early,” Proviso East’s Michael Osborne said. “He said don’t let them breathe, suffocate them, get some easy baskets and keep their scoring down.”
Willowbrook (2-2) certainly had its chances to rally. While the Warriors limited the Pirates from any huge scoring runs, they also didn’thelp themselves at the free throw line.
The Warriors converted just 20-of-35 free throws, were outrebounded 44-34 and missed some easy baskets, but they also committed eight fewer turnovers than the Pirates.
“We just had a lot of missed opportunities,” Perkins said.“We should’ve won tonight’s game. We missed 15 free throws and some of those were front ends of 1-and-1s so that means we left at least five other free throws that we didn’t get an opportunity to attempt. We got the ball down low, and I don’t know if it was the fourth game in five nights, but we couldn’tf inish, but we had great looks.”
Despite all that, the Warriors pulled to within six points on three occasions in the third quarter, including at 47-41 with 1:29 left after Haven Pryor split a pair of free throws. But the Pirates always had an answer.
“I thought my team did a great job of keeping their composure,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “They cut it down to six a couple of times and I thought Terrence Thomas and Michael Obsorne did a great job of leading.”
Thomas had 21 points and 11 rebounds while Osborne, who was named tournament MVP, added 16 points.
Everett Stubblefield led the Warriors with 15 points while Pryor had 13 and Sam Tumilty chipped in with 12 points and six assists. Sean Paige had a tough night shooting (2-for-12), but still contributed eight points and was huge on the glass with 15 rebounds and two blocks. Isaac Gaines added five steals.
“I like our chances going forward,” Perkins said. “It was a great experience for us. We got some close game situations, and I told them the way you get better is playing good teams and this was a great tournament with all quality games.”
For football players like Pryor, Stubblefield, Tumilty and Deandre Holliday (sat injured), they got to play in a championship, albeit not the one they were hoping to play in most.
“We were talking about the football game a little bit actually before basketball and seeing what the score was and stuff like that,”Tumilty said. “It’s kind of cool we got to play for another tournament championship. Obviously we wished we out there at NIU.”
Since the Pirates are a conference foe, they’ll get two more cracks at them.
“I think we saw that we need to clean up a few areas,”Tumilty said. “Rebounding, finishing layups and free throws. I think if we clean those things up we’ll be heading in right direction.”