Saturday Caps Off Stellar 53rd Edition Of Invite

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It was a near perfect way to end a great week of basketball at the Rick McGraw Memorial Invitational as the 53rd edition of the Litchfield institution wrapped up with three close games and a stellar performance by the eventual champion.

To start the day, Civic Memorial would defeat Greenville 55-52 to capture seventh place overall. The Comets led 32-30 at halftime, but were outscored 25-20 over the final two quarters. Fletcher Manhart and Jack Schaufelberger had 18 points apiece for Greenville, while Alex Reams (17), Grant Lane (12) and Trey Hall (10) were all in double figures for Civic Memorial.

As close as that game was, the fifth and third place games were even closer. Gateway Legacy Christian Academy rallied from a 26-23 deficit going into the fourth quarter to beat Hillsboro 34-32, with the Toppers’ Nic Ondrey narrowly missing a long three at the buzzer to win the game. Jace Tuetken led Hillsboro with 13 points, while Felipe Garcia paced Gateway Legacy with 11 points.

Pana would withstand their own buzzer-beater attempt as Seth Johnson’s half-courter hit the front of the rim in the Panthers’ 50-49 win over Nokomis in the third place game. Jonah Lauff and Wesley Kile led Pana with 12 and 10, while Carter Sabol had 22 for Nokomis.

While the 22-point margin of victory made the final score of the championship look like a blowout, for three quarters, Saturday’s 81-59 finale between Triad and Taylorville was anything but a rout. The Knights led by just one, 37-36, at halftime and by five going into the fourth quarter, 57-52.

Then Triad exploded for 24 fourth quarter points, while holding the Tornadoes to seven as they won their first ever title in their first year back in the tournament following a lengthy absence. Luke Cox of Triad and Jase Bergschneider of Taylorville entered the game as the tournament’s top two scorers and did not disappoint in the championship. Cox would score 40 points, three off the tournament record, set by Triad’s Randy Droy in 1972 against Hillsboro, while Bergschneider would finish with 25.

Cox would score 119 points over his four games at Litchfield, one off the four-game scoring record set by Shawn Patton of Columbia in 1996. While he narrowly missed two records, he did capture a third, for most three-pointers (22) in four games, beating the old record of 19 set by Jonathan McLeod of Pana in 2014. The Triad senior would earn MVP honors for his performance throughout the week at Simmons Gym.

Joining him on the all-tournament team were Triad’s top defender Michael Tentis, Bergschneider (106 points in four games) and Nokomis’ Carter Sabol (99 points in four games). For Sabol, this was the fourth time in his prep career that he had been named to the all-tournament team at Litchfield, while Bergschneider had been honored as a sophomore and junior as well.

Hillsboro’s Nic Ondrey (76 points), Gateway Legacy’s Felipe Garcia (48 points), Greenville’s Fletcher Manhart (51 points), Civic Memorial’s Alex Reams (48 points), Taylorville’s Tyler Heimsness (47 points) and Pana’s Andrew Ambrose (58 points) and Jonah Lauff (56 points) also earned spots on the 11-player all-tournament team.

Seven of the top 11 scorers in the tournament made the all-conference team (Cox, Bergschneider, Sabol, Ondrey, Ambrose, Lauff and Manhart), with Drake Vogel (62 points) and Jace Tuetken (55 points) of Hillsboro, Brady Bishop (52 points) of Litchfield and Jack Schaufelberger (51 points) of Greenville rounding out that list.

After bringing in four new teams for the 2020 edition, tournament officials expect less turnover for the 54th version of the tournament. Ten of the 12 teams are already signed up for next year, with another, Gateway Legacy, expressing interest in coming back next year after a good experience in Litchfield. Regardless of what teams are back next year, if this year’s tournament is any indication, basketball fans can expect another great year in 2021.

2020 Rick McGraw Memorial Invitational Tournament

Pool A: 1. Triad (20); 8. Greenville (1-1); 9. Mt. Zion (0-2)

Pool B: 2. Pana (2-0); 7. Civic Memorial (1-1); 10. Ramsey (0-2)

Pool C: 3. Taylorville (2-0); 6. Litchfield (0-2); 11. Hillsboro (1-1)

Pool D: 4. Gateway Legacy (1-1); 5. Nokomis (2-0); 12. Father McGivney (0-2)

Pool Play - Day 1

Saturday, January 18

• Taylorville 94, Hillsboro 76

• Pana 66, Ramsey 28

• Triad 72, Mt. Zion 41

• Gateway Legacy 63, Father McGivney 54

Pool Play - Day 2

Monday, January 20

• Nokomis 58, Father McGivney 24

• Hillsboro 82, Litchfield 74

• Civic Memorial 55, Ramsey 42

• Greenville 51, Mt. Zion 46

Pool Play - Day 3

Tuesday, January 21

at Simmons Gym

• Triad 66, Greenville 51

• Taylorville 69, Litchfield 41

• Pana 75, Civic Memorial 61

• Nokomis 54, Gateway Legacy 49

Ninth Place Bracket

Thursday, January 23

• Mt. Zion 47, Father McGivney 33

• Litchfield 49, Ramsey 36

Friday, January 24

11th Place Game: Father McGivney 50, Ramsey 35

9th Place Game: Mt. Zion 57, Litchfield 27

Fifth Place Bracket

Thursday, January 23

• Gateway Legacy 47, Greenville 40

• Hillsboro 61, Civic Memorial 43

Saturday, January 25

7th Place Game: Civic Memorial 55, Greenville 52

5th Place Game: Gateway Legacy 34, Hillsboro 32

Championship Bracket

Friday, January 24

• Triad 56, Nokomis 41

• Taylorville 70, Pana 57

Saturday, January 25

3rd Place Game: Pana 50, Nokomis 49

Championship Game: Triad 81, Taylorville 59

All-Tournament Team: Carter Sabol, Sr. - Nokomis; Nic Ondrey, Sr. - Hillsboro; Alex Reams, Sr. - Civic Memorial; Felipe Garcia, Jr. - Gateway Legacy; Fletcher Manhart, Jr. - Greenville; Andrew Ambrose, Jr. - Pana; Jonah Lauff, Sr. - Pana; Michael Tentis, Sr. - Triad; Jase Bergschneider, Sr. - Taylorville; Tyler Heimsness, Sr. - Taylorville. MVP: Luke Cox, Sr. - Triad.

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