March 5, 2017
SUGAR GROVE — The Carl Sandburg College men’s basketball team tied a season high with 14 3-pointers and led from start to finish in an 88-68 rout of rival Black Hawk on Saturday in the semifinals of the Region IV District tournament.
The third-seeded Chargers (18-14), winners of five of their last six, advance to take on top seed and sixth-ranked South Suburban in the championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Waubonsee. The winner moves on to the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship March 21-25 in Danville. It’s Sandburg’s second Region IV championship appearance in the last four years and the fourth time in program history the Chargers will play for a region title.
Sandburg came out blazing against the seventh-seeded Braves (15-16) as it scored the game’s initial eight points and shot 8 of 14 from 3-point range in building a 42-28 halftime lead. Overall, the Chargers, who have yet to trail in the tournament, shot 57 percent (16 of 28) from the floor in the first half.
Matt Wendling (Athens, Ill./Athens) led the barrage, scoring 19 of his team-leading 22 before halftime. He went 5 of 6 from beyond the arc in the first half, capped by a 25-footer shortly before the horn. The freshman forward has made 16 of 25 from distance in the last three games.
“Our guys came out with the right mindset, were ready to play right away and it showed,” Chargers coach Ryan Twaddle said. “We couldn’t have scripted a much better start.”
Sandburg didn’t let up in the second half, using a 10-0 run to go ahead 60-35 with 11:56 to play. The Chargers’ lead grew to as much as 28 in the second half. Sandburg finished the afternoon 29 of 57 (51 percent) from the floor and knocked down 14 of 29 (48 percent) from beyond the arc.
Three Chargers joined Wendling in scoring in double figures. Shane Maple (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) had 19 points to go with team highs of five assists and four steals. Isaiah Thurmond (Alton, Ill./Alton) had 17 points and a team-leading seven rebounds, and Eric Williams (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway) scored 11 off the bench.
Connor Fuller led Black Hawk with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Knoxville High School product Tyler Houston added 13 points for the Braves.
“We’ve played a tough schedule, tried a few different lineups throughout the year, and now we’re playing our best basketball of the season,” Twaddle said. “We’ve put ourselves in a great position. We have one game to play for the Sweet 16, and we’ll let it all out on the floor next week.”