Central can't overcome mistakes; rally falls just short
Manual nails free throws in final quarter to advance to 2A title game

PEORIA - In a game of contrasting styles the Breese Central Cougars couldn’t overcome its early mistakes and one mental error in the final seconds of its 39-38 loss to Peoria Manual on Friday night in the semifinals of the Class 2A tournament.

Coach Stan Eagleson’s club committed 15 of their 22 turnovers in the first half of the low-scoring contest and never could get the lead in falling into the third place game on Saturday.

Brandon Book – Breese Central’s 6-foot-5 sophomore forward – led the Cougars with 11-points while 6-foot-5 senior Garrett Gaffner added 10.

But it was Manual’s Lawrence Alexander who stole the show with 16-points – including 6-of-6 shooting from the foul line.

Alexander and teammate Marvin Jordan hit big free throws in the fourth quarter.

Jordan canned two consecutive charities with :13 remaining to put the Rams up 39-36.

Keaton Scheer finished with four points for Breese Central and his driving lay-up with :01.1 got the lead down to a point.

However the Cougars were out of timeouts and after a clock stoppage as the ball went into the press area – Manual inbounded the ball and Central was unable to get a foul before time expired.

Central had another opportunity to even the score with :15 left after a turnover by Manual and Central’s Blake Norrenberns getting fouled by Brandon Watson.

But Norrenberns missed the first of two free throws. His second one was on the mark which set up Jordan’s free throw heroics.

The Rams won the game from the foul line as they converted 9-of-12 free throws compared to 9-of-12 from Central.

“First of all I want to say that Breese (Central) was a very good ballclub,” said Peoria Manual head coach Derrick Booth. “I have a lot of respect for that program tonight. They were everything that we thought that they would be. They are well coached and played to their strengths – pounding it in.”

Central scored just 10-points in the first half – by far their worst offensive output of the season by going just 4-of-15 from the floor in the first 16 minutes.

Manual didn’t shoot the ball much better on this night but they jumped out to a 7-0 lead early on scores by Watson, Jordan and Alexander.

Alexander had 10 of his points in the first half – and his bucket with 3:03 left pushed the Manual lead to 17-9.

‘I thought “hey” we’re still right there,” added Coach Eagleson when talking about being down just seven at the break. “Our defense has been solid. This is a pretty good defensive team.”

“I thought that we had a lot of good shots tonight but I think they (Breese Central) were a part of that,” added Coach Booth. “They are deceptive in their defense because they are so long and lanky. They contend every shot. I feel fortunate to come out of here with a victory.”

Baskets by Jordan and Landis Farmer pushed the Rams lead to 21-14 at the 4:48 mark of the third quarter.

But Book hit a pair of shots and Gaffner stuck back a rebound to get the Cougars closer.

Book’s 3-pointer with 2:15 to go got Breese Central to within 23-21.

Peoria Manual extended its lead just enough to hold off Central’s eventual rally.

“Obviously I didn’t think we played very well in the first half. We could not run any sets offensively,” said Breese Central head coach Stan Eagleson. “We did a much better job of that in the second half and we made some shots. Defensively I thought we were pretty solid the whole game.”

The Cougars will play top-ranked Hales Franciscan on Saturday after Robinson took out the Spartans in the other Class 2A semifinal 64-61.

“It just came down to the free throws but I couldn’t be more proud of the kids effort in the second half,” finalized Coach Eagleson. “They (Manual) put that pressure on you and you have to attack that pressure. I hope the kids can bounce back. They are pretty devastated right now. Sometimes as a coach I don’t realize how much these kids want it. In the lockerroom there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. They thought they were going to win the ballgame. Hopefully they can bounce back from that.”

 Breese Central
Peoria Manual
Breese Central (38) – Wiegmann 3 0 1-4 7, Book 3 1 2-2 11, Gaffner 4 0 2-2 10, Grapperhaus 1 0 2-2 4, Scheer 2 0 0-1 4, Rakers 0 0 0-0 0, Norrenberns 0 0 2-4 2.
2FG-13, 3FG-1, FT-9-15, PF-17.
Peoria Manual (39) – Roddy 1 0 2-4 4, Watson 2 0 0-0 4, Stokes 0 0 2-3 2, Jordan 2 1 2-2 9, Alexander 5 0 6-6 16, Stuckey 0 0 0-0 0, Framer 1 0 0-0 2, Jordan 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-12, 3FG-1, FT-12-15, PF-16.
Fouled Out – Watson - Peoria Manual.
Technical Fouls – None.