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PREP BOYS' BASKETBALL: Dominant first half sparks impressive Quasar win

WESTBROOK -- Dominating every phase of the game in the first half Thursday night, Southwest Star Concept hustled and shot its way to an impressive 51-15 lead on Round Lake-Brewster in an opening round game of the Section 3A South high school boys' basketball tournament.

Sparked by 3-pointers from five different players, RL-B put together a 29-15 run in the second half, closing the score to a 22-point margin (66-44) with six minutes and 25 seconds to play in the game.

But the sixth-seeded Quasars (17-7) responded with 12 straight points and secured an 80-50 victory, advancing SSC to Saturday's quarterfinals at Worthington.

Eleven players scored in the game for the well-balanced Raiders, who finished their season with a 3-21 record, after having won two of their last three games in a row to finish the regular season.

"You have to give SSC credit," RL-B head coach Lon Eichenberger said. "They played very well in the first half, taking away our inside game with their defensive pressure and then passing the ball so well and getting good shots on the offensive end."

Leading the Quasars in the early going was senior sharpshooter Kirk McBreen, who netted 16 points in the first half, connecting on four 3-pointers.

McBreen scored on a drive down the lane to give the Quasars a 13-2 lead at the 13:44 mark, as SSC's hustle on defense ignited an opportunistic transition game, setting the tone for the first half.

After Ben Scheevel (19 points, nine assists, six rebounds, four steals) fired a "kick out" pass to McBreen for his second 3-pointer of the contest, the talented all-around senior forward converted a steal into a break-away lay-up and the Quasars had opened up an 18-4 advantage with 10:27 to play in the first half.

The lead continued to grow as a pair of nifty inside passes from senior Jeremy Crocker to Scheevel and William Cranston (game-high 20 points) made the score 30-8, and then senior defensive specialist Cory Pelzel sizzled a dandy pass to Cranston, giving SSC a 32-8 lead with 6:12 left.

"We played well," SSC head coach Tim Owen said in an understatement. "We worked a long time in practice Tuesday on the inside-outside concept and the kids really executed that part of our game plan -- and our defensive intensity and hustle was tremendous."

Two minutes later -- after another "kick out" pass from Scheevel to McBreen -- the Quasars were up by 32 points, 44-12.

Owen rested his starters at the end of the half and then with his team leading 61-27 five minutes into the second half, he pulled them again.

That's when the Raiders began to get hot from the perimeter.

Alex Busch, Ben Cunningham, Neil McNab, Tim Kennedy and Nick Ober all made 3-pointers for the Raiders, as RL-B made its comeback, paced by Ober's nine points.

But a drive by Cranston (who scored 10 points in each half) and a sweet reverse lay-up by Pelzel -- off a long pass from McBreen -- put the Quasars back in command, leading 70-44 with 4:50 remaining.

Pelzel finished with eight points, three steals and three assists, while Crocker had a trio of assists for SSC.

Ober had four steals for the Raiders and Jeremy Nelson dished off three assists. Freshman Jake Walker, who scored a quick basket off a steal during the Raiders' second-half run, had three steals and three assists, to go along with seven points.

A total of 12 players scored in the game for the Quasars, who play third-seeded Hills-Beaver Creek in Saturday's fourth game, beginning at approximately 6 p.m.

SSC and H-BC split during the regular season with each team winning on the other's homecourt.

RL-B 15 35 -- 50

SSC 51 29 -- 80

RL-B (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Nelson 0-2-1-5, Cunningham 1-0-1-4, Ober 1-3-0-9, Bosma 0-2-0-4, Olson 0-1-1-3, McNab 1-0-0-3, Schmitz 0-0-2-2, Walker 0-2-3-7, Busch 1-0-0-3, Hansen 0-1-1-3, Kennedy 1-1-2-7. Totals 5-12-11-50.

SSC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) McBreen 4-2-0-16, Hall 0-0-4-4, Pelzel 0-4-0-8, Scheevel 1-8-0-19, Rossow 0-0-1-1, Stenzel 0-0-1-1, Cranston 0-10-0-20, Glaser 0-1-0-2, Crocker 0-1-1-3, A.Collin 0-1-0-2, S.Haberman 0-0-2-2, J.Collin 0-1-0-2. Totals 5-28-9-80.