Vols stay hot, beat Kaskaskia to claim outright GRAC title.
Byline: JOHN D. HOMAN email@example.com
CARTERVILLE -- Three players scored in double figures Friday night as the John A. Logan College men's basketball team rolled past visiting Kaskaskia, 77-64, in the regular season finale for both schools.
The victory clinched the outright Great Rivers Athletic Conference title for the Volunteers.
Leading the offensive charge was Derek Hawthorne Jr. with 21 points. He was 8-of-13 from the field, 2-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc and 3-of-4 at the free-throw line.
Jaiveon Eaves followed with 18 points and Vonnie Patterson added 13.
As a team, the Vols converted 31-of-69 shots from the field (45 percent) and were a chilly 5-of-21 from long range (24 percent). They were also a pedestrian 10-of-18 from the charity stripe or 56 percent.
Where they made up ground on the Blue Devils was the rebounding end, yanking down 44 boards to Kaskaskia's 26. Moreover, 20 of those rebounds were on the offensive end, which led to multiple shot attempts on goal.
Hawthorne grabbed five of those offensive boards and had nine rebounds on the night. Patterson and Romello Burrell snatched four offensive rebounds each.
With the win, the 22nd-ranked Volunteers finish 15-3 in the GRAC, 15-5 in Region 24 play and 25-5 overall. The Blue Devils, who had won six straight going into the game, now stand 17-13 overall.
"What can you say? Thirteen new guys showed up on this campus in August. And we go 25-5. I couldn't be more proud," said JALC sixth-year head coach Kyle Smithpeters. "This group did a great job of coming together and doing some things that not a lot of people expected. And I think there's a lot more ammo in the tank."
Logan broke free from a tie game with a seven-point run in the final minute of the first half for a 37-30 lead at the break. The Vols would never let the visitors get back in the game. They extended the lead to double digits early in the second half and were never seriously threatened thereafter.
Smithpeters has now earned four GRAC titles in his six seasons as head coach at Logan.
"To put this in perspective, we brought in more new guys this year than we did in Year One," he said. "I want to say our culture (here at Logan) is definitely in a very good place during this six-year run.
In addition to the three double-figure scorers, Logan got seven points from Quamain Nelson. Burrell had six. Jonah Jackson tallied five. David Sloan netted three. Ronnie Carson and Aaron Twist added two each. Kaskaskia was led by Logan Kohrmann's 15 points.
The Vols return to action Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the opening round of the District 16 tournament at Rend Lake College's Waugh Gymnasium in Ina.