M-S boys' basketball earns sixth-place finish in holiday classic

Ninth-seeded Mahomet-Seymour finishes 6th at State Farm Holiday Classic

Despite playing four Class 4A schools — including the No. 1-seeded team and two coaches who have won state titles — the No. 9-seeded Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball team placed sixth in the 39th State Farm Holiday Classic tournament last week.

"This was a very good tournament for us in a lot of ways," M-S coach Chad Benedict said. "When we get the opportunity to play against these good teams that are well coached, they expose things that we need to improve upon. We fully believe that this helps us get ready for the postseason."

The Bulldogs also had to adjust to four different styles of play from the four different teams they faced.

"We really didn't go against teams that looked alike," Benedict said. "Sometimes in a tournament that will happen, but not in this one. We felt like that was a good thing. We played well at times and other times we did not."

M-S finished the tournament with a 2-2 record. Senior Cory Noe was named to the all-tournament team.

"We are very happy for Cory," Benedict said. "This is a reflection of the hard work Cory has put in, and how his teammates recognize and respect that by trying to help him be in a position to have success. To be named to this all-tournament team is a real honor, given all of the talent that is in this tournament."

In the Bulldogs' first game of the tournament on Wednesday, M-S defeated South Holland Thornwood 59-45 to continue in the winner's bracket.

M-S' defense came out strong and held Thornwood to six first-quarter points to take an eight-point lead into the second period.

Thornwood cut the lead to five at half, 26-21, and the two teams played even in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs pulled away in the fourth quarter with a 20-11 run for the final score and its seventh consecutive win.

"Outstanding defensive effort," Benedict said. "We really moved the ball well and got great looks at the basket."

Noe recorded a game-high 23 points to go with nine rebounds.

Brooks Coetzee followed with a season-high 10 points along with three rebounds. Noah Benedict added eight points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

"Brooks Coetzee is getting more and more comfortable offensively as the season progresses," Chad Benedict said.

Holt Campion and Jordan Veldman each scored six points.

Campion also collected three rebounds, and Veldman added two rebounds and two assists. Josh Johnson tallied four points and two rebounds, and Dawson Finch collected three rebounds.

In the second round of the tournament on Thursday, M-S drew No. 1 seed Wheaton Warrenville South.

WWS took advantage of shooting 76 percent from the field (while the Bulldogs shot 36 percent) in knocking off M-S 47-36.

After taking a four-point lead in the first quarter, WWS outscored the Bulldogs 13-5 in the second quarter and 11-6 in the third quarter to pull away.

"Our effort was really good," Chad Benedict said. "We missed some easy shots, and they were able to capitalize. They are extremely patient on offense and once they extended the lead, they were hard to chase down."

Noe scored a team-high 16 points and Noah Benedict hit double digits with 10 points.

Each player also had five rebounds and two assists.

Campion added four points, Coetzee had three points and Finch recorded two rebounds and two assists.

The loss dropped the Bulldogs to the fifth- through eighth-place bracket and a 9:30 a.m. contest against Rock Island on Friday.

"We were worried about bouncing back and being emotionally ready to play," Chad Benedict said. "The kids came out locked in and ready to play. They shared the ball well, had great looks and played lock-down defense."

After taking a six-point lead in the first quarter, the Bulldogs outscored Rock Island 11-4 in the second to take a 25-12 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs extended the lead to 14 points in the third quarter and then held on in the fourth for the final 54-44 score.

"Very proud of our kids and possibly one of our best games of the season against a very good team," Chad Benedict said. "This was a solid win."

The Bulldogs shot 60 percent from the floor and had 21 defensive rebounds.

Noe and Noah Benedict again scored in double digits with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Noe also added nine rebounds, and Noah Benedict had six rebounds and five assists.

"We felt like Noah Benedict looked to score a little more and played some very good defense on some high-level players," Chad Benedict said.

Campion tallied eight points, six rebounds, three assists and two points. Johnson contributed six points and two rebounds, and Veldman and Lucas Turner each had three points. Finch dished out a team-high five assists and scored two points.

The win put M-S into the fifth-place game against Rockton Hononegah that same afternoon.

M-S took a 13-11 first-quarter lead against Hononegah, but Hononegah took the lead in the second quarter and did not give it up in the eventual 61-36 win.

"We played well for one quarter and then things fell apart," Chad Benedict said. "We really struggled to find a rhythm offensively, and they were able to get out in transition and get easy baskets. It was a disappointing game, but one that taught us a lot and what we need to work on to improve."

Noe collected 11 points, nine rebounds and two assists, and Coetzee again hit double digits with 10 points.

Noah Benedict contributed nine points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Campion, Johnson and Veldman each scored two points, and Campion and Johnson each collected two rebounds.

"Cory Noe continues to get double- and triple-teamed when he has the ball," Chad Benedict said. "We are learning how to play off of that.

"This tournament, I think opened some eyes to some of our guys in how open they can be because of how teams are choosing to guard Cory. This represents all the hard work Cory has put in, teams and coaches respect his game that much."

The Bulldogs have had to deal with injuries and sicknesses all season and played the tournament without starter Grant Coleman.

"Considering some of the injuries and sickness we have dealt with in the first half of the season, we are really pleased to be in the position that we are in," Chad Benedict said. "We really like our team and are appreciative of the fact that they like each other. They are fun to coach and we enjoy going to the gym everyday with them. We are looking forward to the second half of the season."

The tournament games set the Bulldogs' overall record at 11-4.

M-S is scheduled to face Belleville Althoff in the Christie Clinic Shootout at St. Joseph-Ogden High School on Saturday before returning to Apollo Conference action against Mattoon on Tuesday and Effingham on Friday.

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