BOYS BASKETBALL: Manteno trounces Peotone, advances to I-8 final
MANTENO — Although these two are bitter rivals, it undoubtedly was clear which team came more ready to play Saturday.
Manteno led wire-to-wire and showed itself to be the superior team for the night, as it took rival Peotone to the woodshed with a 69-45 victory against the Blue Devils to advance to the Interstate Eight Conference championship.
“This now puts us 3-for-3 in tournament championship this season,” Manteno coach Zachary Myers said. “We won the Coal City Thanksgiving Tournament, finished second in the Kankakee Holiday Tournament, and now we’re guaranteed at least second in this one. We’ve struggled in conference play, so this tournament was important to us.”
The Panthers relied on its trio of sharpshooting guards — Trevor Moisant, Robbie Wesselhoff and Darien Bechard — inside the post to do most of the heavy lifting.
Moisant never has been shy about letting the ball fly, and it was no different once he stepped on the court.
He was efficient and smart with his shot selections, waiting for the right moment. Often, that moment came with Peotone left him on the perimeter unguarded, and he did what he does best.
He buried four 3-pointers on the night, including a 26-footer to end the third quarter on his way to a game-high 20 points and four rebounds.
Wesselhoff, who shoots just as well as Moisant, had more than just his shot working.
He matched his teammate shot-for-shot, as he also drilled four 3-pointers on the evening and finished with 14 points. But it was his passing that gave the Panthers that extra boost.
Whether it was assisting on a Moisant bucket or finding Bechard inside, if he passed it, chances were the next shot was going in. He ended the night with four assists.
“This was the bounce-back game we needed after getting beaten by Sandwich on Friday after not playing for a week,” Myers said. “We shot the ball well and played solid defense. When we’re shooting like this, it makes us a completely different team.”
Bechard was the beneficiary of the 3-point barrage Wesselhoff and Moisant were putting forth. That cleared out space for him to use his 6-foot-3 frame and get to the bucket.
He stayed aggressive and rewarded his team with 12 points and five rebounds for the night.
The Panther trio combined to outside Peotone 46-45.
“We’re different when those guys are in a rhythm,” Myers said. “We’ve had trouble keeping teams down, but we tend to score really quickly and a lot. Those three help take a ton of pressure off everyone and help settle everyone down. We [know] we can go to them at anytime for points; we thrive off of them scoring, and it makes everyone else better.”
After Moisant, Wesselhoff added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.
For Peotone, Caleb Hunter finished with 16 points, and Logan Heflin added 14 points on the evening.
Manteno plays today for the Interstate Eight Conference championship at Sandwich. Peotone rebounds Tuesday at home against Plano.