Beginning season tournaments can be good measuring sticks for basketball teams. These tournaments give coaches a handful of games in a short amount of time, which allows them to see what early season adjustments need to be made.
For Coach Drew Logan and the Litchfield Purple Panthers, the Metro-East Lutheran Thanksgiving Tip-Off showed that the Purple Panthers could compete even with a short roster due to injuries.
The injury bug hitting the Purple Panthers early allowed one positive for Litchfield, as their younger players got some valuable minutes early in the season.
After falling in game one the Purple Panthers would pick up their first win of the season defeating Brussels on Tuesday, Nov. 26, before falling in tough battles against Waterloo Gibault on Friday and East Alton-Wood River on Saturday.
After falling to the Gillespie Miners in game one of the Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off, the Purple Panthers would square off against Brussels on Tuesday in the consolation side of the tournament bracket.
Litchfield would jump out in front of Brussels in the first quarter as they would control an 11-8 lead after one quarter. Blaine Stewart had the hot hand in the opening quarter as he netted seven points.
In the second frame, the Purple Panthers would be able to increase their lead as their defense held Brussels to single digit scoring in the second straight quarter.
Litchfield would add 11 more points to their total as they would hold a five point lead, 22-17, at the half. Stewart would add five more points to his total as he put in his second three-pointer of the contest and would lead all scorers with 12 points at the half.
In the second half, the Purple Panthers would continue to apply suffocating defense and would once again hold their opponent to single digit scoring in a quarter. Litchfield would only allow one field goal and a free throw in the third frame as Brussels would only be able to add three points to their halftime total.
On the offensive side of the court, the Purple Panthers would put in nine more points and would be led in the quarter by Blake McGill, who added two field goals, giving him six points in the contest.
Stewart would connect on his third three-pointer of the contest as Litchfield would hold a 31-20 lead after three quarters.
In the final frame, Brussels' offense would awaken and find ways to put points on the board as they would score 15 points in the quarter.
Litchfield's John Corso, who struggled with back spasms, would also have an offensive outburst as he piled on nine points of the 13 points Litchfield scored in the quarter. Stewart and McGill would combine for the other four points as the Purple Panthers would secure a 44-35 victory.
Blaine Stewart, with 17 points, would lead the all scorers, and John Corso would follow with 11 points for the 1-1 Purple Panthers.
After claiming their first win of the season on Tuesday, Litchfield would move to the semifinal game of the consolation bracket against one of the premier basket programs in the state of Illlinois, Waterloo Gibault.
Gibault would reach the semifinal game of the consolation bracket with a loss to Odin and a victory over Dupo.
Both teams would go toe-to-toe throughout this contest, but Gibault would use a 16-12 fourth quarter to pull ahead of the Purple Panthers and claim a 56-53 victory.
In the first two ball games of the tournament, the Purple Panthers would be able to overcome their injuries with tough defense. In this contest, the Purple Panthers' offense would be the talk as they would be able to add double digit scoring in each quarter, including an 18 point third quarter.
In the opening quarter, Litchfield would build a 12-11 lead with help from Austin Niehaus, who put in three field goals, giving him six points in the quarter.
In the second quarter, the Purple Panthers would continue to find ways to put points on the board. John Corso would put in five points and Blaine Stewart would add four points as Litchfield would add 11 points to their total in the second quarter.
Litchfield would not be able to slow down Gibault though, as they were able to add 13 points to their total, giving them a 24-23 lead at the half. Litchfield would get scoring from four of their starters in the half as John Corso would lead the way for Litchfield with seven first half points.
Coming out of the locker room, the Purple Panthers would have a hot hand as they were able to net 18 points in the opening quarter of the second half. Blaine Stewart and Blake McGill would find success from behind the three-point arc as they put in two three-point field goals apiece.
Gibault would not allow Litchfield to build too big of a lead in the quarter as they were able to add 16 points to their total. The two-point swing though would allow the Purple Panthers to control a 41-40 lead after three quarters.
In the final frame, Gibault would be able to take over the lead and build on that lead, claiming a 56-53 victory. Gibault would have success in that final frame by outscoring Litchfield 16-12.
The loss would drop the Purple Panthers to 1-2 in the tournament and put them in the 11th place contest. Blaine Stewart would lead all scorers with 16 points, followed by Austin Niehaus' ten points.
East Alton-Wood River
On the final day of the Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off, the Purple Panthers would compete in the 11th place contest against the East Alton-Wood River Oilers.
After a solid offensive game on Friday, Litchfield would struggle to put points on the board in this contest. A two point third quarter would put the Purple Panthers in a bind as East Alton-Wood River would put away Litchfield with a 40-31 final.
After falling behind 10-6 in the first quarter, the Purple Panthers would turn the tide in the second frame as they would tie the contest at 17 before the first half expired, outscoring the Oilers 11-7.
In the first half, the Purple Panthers would connect on three three-point field goals from three different players. Blaine Stewart, John Corso and Austin Niehaus all would add a three-point basket in the opening two quarters. Corso would lead the Purple Panthers at the half with seven points, all coming in the second quarter.
The low scoring affair for the Purple Panthers would continue in the third quarter. Litchfield would only be able to add one field goal in the quarter when sophomore Cameron Crow connected on his first varsity basket of his career.
The Oilers would be able to add ten points to their total, allowing them to break open the deadlocked contest to 27-19 after three quarters.
Litchfield would not go down without a fight as they would put together a solid effort in the final frame. The Oilers would increase their lead to 13 points with a 5-0 run to start the final frame before Crow would add his second field goal of the half and Litchfield's fourth point of the half.
The Purple Panthers would be able to get the contest to a single digit deficit twice in the quarter, one time coming with under 30 seconds in regulation when Blaine Stewart connected on a three-point field goal, making the score 40-31.
Litchfield's effort in the final frame would come up a bit short though, as the Oilers would claim the victory. The Purple Panthers would be led in the scoring column by Blaine Stewart's 11 points as he would combine for 51 points over the four game span, averaging almost 13 points a game.
The loss to the Oilers would drop the Purple Panthers to 1-3 overall. Even though Litchfield would walk away from the tournament with a 1-3 record the Purple Panthers would carry a lot of positives, including a tough defense throughout most of the tournament.
With a healthy lineup, the Purple Panthers hope to become a force throughout the regular season. Litchfield will build off the effort throughout the tournament as they entertain the Wildcats from Mt. Olive on Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the home opener for the Purple Panthers.
November 26 at Edwardsville
Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off
Litchfield 11 11 9 13 44
Brussels 8 9 3 15 35
Litchfield (44) - Blaine Stewart 17, John Corso 11, Blake McGill 8, Austin Niehaus 4, Anthony Boston 4. Totals: 17 6-9 44.
Brussels (35) - Derek Kamp 15, Mitchell Willman 10, Joseph Vogel 7, Avery Caselton 2, Andrew Robeen 1. Totals: 14 6-16 35.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 4 - Stewart 3, Corso 1; Brussels 1 - Willman 1.
Record: Litchfield (1-1); Brussels (0-2).
November 29 at Edwardsville
Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off
Litchfield 12 11 18 12 53
Gibault 11 13 16 16 56
Litchfield (53) - Blaine Stewart 16, Anthony Boston 11, John Corso 9, Blake McGill 9, Austin Niehaus 8. Totals: 20 5-7 53.
Gibault (56) - Max Kostelac 14, Ryan Bollinger 10, Will Simonton 10, Kameron Hanvey 9, Kaleb Grohman 4, Gavin Kohnz 4, Owen Scherff 3, Eric Schreder 2. Totals: 23 6-10 56.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 8 - Stewart 4, McGill 3, Corso 1; Gibault 4 - Bollinger 2, Simonton 2.
Records: Litchfield (1-2), Gibault (2-1).
November 30 at Edwardsville
Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off
Litchfield 6 11 2 12 31
EAWR 10 7 10 13 40
Litchfield (31) - Blaine Stewart 11, Cameron Crow 6, Austin Niehaus 5, John Corso 5, Blake McGill 2, Anthony Boston 2. Totals: 13 0-8 31.
East Alton-Wood River (40) - Javion Anderson 8, Jake Wells 8, Ryan Dawson 7, Spencer Slayden 6, Andrew Oliger 4, Evan Merritt 4, Antonio Hardin 3, Totals: 17 1-3 40.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 5 - Stewart 3, Corso 1, Niehaus 1; EAWR 5 - Slayden 2, Wells 1, Dawson 1, Hardin 1.
Records: Litchfield (1-3); East Alton-Wood River (2-2).
2019 Turkey Tip-Off
Monday, November 25
Game 1: Mater Dei 78, Brussels 50
Game 2: Gillespie 59, Litchfield 46
Game 3: Odin 55, Gibault 51
Game 4: Lift for Life 81, Dupo 49
Game 5: Metro-East Lutheran 66, Christ Our Rock Lutheran 54
Game 6: Marissa 48, Southwestern 31
Tuesday, November 26
Game 7: Alton Marquette 73, East Alton-Wood River 20
Game 8: Roxana 73, Valmeyer 53
Game 9: Litchfield 44, Brussels 35
Game 13: Mater Dei 76, Gillespie 38
Game 14: Lift for Life 82, Odin 45
Wednesday, November 27
Game 10: Gibault 66, Dupo 40
Game 11: East Alton-Wood River 55, Valmeyer 54
Game 12: Christ Our Rock Lutheran 65, Southwestern 60
Game 15: Alton Marquette 38, Roxana 35
Game 16: Metro-East Lutheran 62, Marissa 54
Friday, November 29
13th Place Bracket Semifinal
Game 17: Brussels 44, Dupo 33
Game 18: Valmeyer 73, Southwestern 57
Game 19: Gibault 56, Litchfield 53
Game 20: Christ Our Rock Lutheran 58, East Alton-Wood River 49
5th Place Bracket Semifinal
Game 21: Odin 64, Gillespie 48
Game 22: Roxana 51, Marissa 44
Game 23: Lift for Life 63, Mater Dei 62
Game 24: Alton Marquette 39, Metro-East Lutheran 25
Saturday, November 30
Game 25: 15th Place - Southwestern 37, Dupo 34
Game 26: 11th Place - East Alton-Wood River 40, Litchfield 31
Game 27: 13th Place - Valmeyer 58, Brussels 51
Game 28: 9th Place/Consolation Championship - Gibault 54, Christ Our Rock Lutheran 52
Game 29: 7th Place - Marissa 73, Gillespie 48
Game 30: 5th Place - Roxana 49, Odin 35
Game 31: 3rd Place - Mater Dei 54, Metro-East Lutheran 17
Game 32: Championship - Lift For Life 64, Alton Marquette 60