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MTZ boys basketball goes 4-0, wins Lincoln Thanksgiving Tournament

The Mt. Zion Boys basketball team with the championship trophy of the 2023 Lincoln Thanksgiving Tournament. Front row left to right: Logan Auvil, Chase Fink, Sam Driscoll, Grant McAtee, Lyncoln Koester, Tucker Burrus and Jacob Harvey. Back row left to right: Head Coach Dale Schuring, Landon Weigler, Brayden Trimble, Makobi Adams, Owen Owens, Jc Anderson, Will Grohne, Assitant Coach Mike Greer and Assistant Coach Jay Driscoll.

Lyncoln Koester and Jc Anderson with their all-tournament plaques after being selected to the all-tournament team of the 2023 Lincoln Thanksgiving Tournament.

Staff Writer

After a tight first quarter, the Mt. Zion boys basketball team propelled by all-tournament team selection Jc Anderson’s six second quarter points and a game high 13 points from other all-tournament selection Lyncoln Koester to a 59-32 win against Champaign Centennial in the 2023 Lincoln Thanksgiving Tournament championship game.

“This is something that we’ve been close to for a couple years now and just couldn’t quite get there,” Head coach Dale Schuring said. “Obviously it’s one of the things we would’ve put down as a goal this year to do and I guess you could say we got it checked off.”

The game was scoreless in the opening two minutes and then Koester broke the scoring open, grabbing a defensive rebound and driving to the rim and finishing. The Chargers tied the game at 4-4 and then Owen Owens came off the bench, grabbed three quick rebounds, including an offensive rebound and buried a top of the key three-pointer to give the Braves a 7-4 lead at the end of the quarter. Owens would finish the game with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

Anderson started the second quarter grabbing his fifth rebound. Anderson then grabbed his sixth and finished off the putback layup to give the Braves a 9-6 lead. Anderson then got the ball back on the next Braves possession and off a Grant McAtee assist, Anderson spun and dunked the ball to give the Braves an 11-6 lead. Anderson finished the game with eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

The Braves finished the half ahead 15-10. Sam Driscoll helped start a 23-7 third quarter run when he buried a three-pointer from the left-wing. The Chargers called a time out and were issued a technical foul, where Koester buried one of two from the line.

The Chargers came out of the timeout and Anderson went up and blocked a layup attempt by Jadon Schils and then stole the ball off the out-of-bounds save by the Chargers. Schils then made a steal but the Chargers missed as Owens grabbed the rebound and the Braves found Driscoll who drove in and finished the layup.

The Braves run also included a three-pointer from Owens, made free-throws from Koester, another three-pointer from Driscolll and a buzzer-beating right-corner three-pointer from Grant McAtee gave the Braves a 38-17 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“From an offensive point of view, we got a lot of weapons and we’re not just a one person offensive unit,” Coach Schuring said. “Certain guys are going to have off nights and we’ve got enough weapons that any given night, you’re going to have to guard all of us because we’re all capable of scoring. Defensively, I thought we were fantastic for the most part on the boards and keeping them out of the lane and they don’t shoot it exceptionally well. And if you can make them shoot outside shots and, and go get the boards when they do miss, you have a pretty good chance. And I thought we did that well tonight.”

The Braves improved to 4-0 overall. The Braves will face Mahomet-Seymour on Saturday for their home opener and tip-off will be at 2:30 p.m.

“We will just look based upon the film and stuff, just take a look at what we didn’t do well and where we need to improve and really focus on that and just get back to going to some fundamentals and cleaning things up,” Coach Schuring said. “We’re talented, but we have to clean things up to get where we want to go as the season goes on.”

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