DECATUR — A Decatur institution celebrated half a century of standout basketball as the Decatur Turkey Tournament opened play on its 50th edition on Tuesday.
Both Eisenhower and Mount Zion saw first round action, facing Bolingbrook and Peoria, respectively, with both the Braves and Panthers losing their season openers.
After falling behind at the end of the first quarter, 13-9, the Panthers went as cold as leftover turkey in the second quarter, scoring six points to trail by 14, 29-15 and ultimately lose 70-43
“There wasn’t much we can take from this game. Just some guys are ready in practice but didn’t make the transition to the game tonight,” Eisenhower coach Rodney Walker said. “We aren’t going to shoot this bad every night but there is no excuse for our defense. I don’t expect everybody to be clicking on the first night but I see more team cohesiveness at practice.”
Behind six third quarter points by Karon Shelley, Eisenhower was much more aggressive in the third, cutting the lead to under 10. Shelley, who sports pink hair, also had an athletic block in the quarter to energize the Panthers’ fans.
Shelley finished with nine points and seven rebounds. RJ Walker led the Panthers with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“There were about five or six guys out there today that were deer in the headlights but that’s part of the Turkey tournament. We will get things together when we face Mount Zion,” Walker said.
The Panthers will face Mount Zion in a consolation round semifinal Friday at 1 p.m. at Stephen Decatur Middle School.
MacArthur opens its Turkey Tournament play Wednesday against Springfield Southeast at 7:30 p.m. The other Wednesday opening round game tips off at 6 p.m. featuring Harvey-Thornton battling Dunlap.
Bolingbrook runs past Mount Zion
In Mount Zion coach Dale Schuring debut, the Braves had the difficult task of facing three-time defending Turkey Tournament champions Bolingbrook in their opening round game. The Raiders showed immediately that they will be in contention for another tournament by jumping out to a 29-10 lead after the first quarter and going onto a 74-42 victory.
“We knew going in we were were a little bit behind with football going as late as it did. (Bolingbrook’s) speed and athleticism hurt us. We knew our backs were against the wall but you have to start somewhere and now we know what we can work on and get better from here,” Schuring said.”
Drew London was the leading scorer in the first half for Mount Zion with six points. Mehki Adams added five points and his brother, Matthias Adams, had four.
The Raiders led 54-21 at halftime but after the break the Braves play improved. Mount Zion won the third quarter 13-12 behind eight points by Nash Mose and a defense that challenged Bolingbrook much harder than in the first half.
“I thought we played a better second half than we did in the first half. We hurt ourselves a lot in the first half and we never really got back on defense and they shot it well most of the night,” Schuring said.
Schuring will depend on London and Nash to let their experience lead on the court.
“Without a doubt, those are the two guys with the most experience. The guys with experience will have to lead us,” he said. “We just have to get more fundamentally sound as a team and we will get there.”
Bolingbrook advances to play Peoria in the championship semifinals on Friday at 6 p.m. at Stephen Decatur.
Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten
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