Here is a recap of what was a spectacular weekend of basketball at the high school and collegiate levels in the area.
Billikens are dancing
The Saint Louis University Billikens are headed to the NCAA Tournament after making an improbable run to the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship in Brooklyn last weekend. Entering the weekend as the No. 6 seed, the Billikens won four games in four days to win the tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA’s field of 68.
Former Althoff High star Jordan Goodwin had 16 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Billikens to a 55-53 victory over St. Bonaventure in the championship game. SLU also defeated Richmond, Dayton and Davidson en route to the championship. Senior guard Tramaine Isbell Jr. was named the Most Outstanding Player of the A-10 Tournament. Isbell and senior Javon Bess were named to the All-Tournament Team.
It marked the second time that the Billikens have won a conference tournament championship by winning four games in four days. SLU achieved the same feat in 2000 when it won the Conference USA Tournament as the No. 9 seed in Memphis, Tennessee. It has been dubbed the “Miracle in Memphis.”
Saint Louis U. received a No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s East Region. They will face No. 4 seed Virginia Tech on Friday night in San Jose, California. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:57 p.m.
The Dynasty continues
Incarnate Word Academy won its third consecutive girls Class 4 state championship with a 61-35 victory over Kansas City Lincoln Academy. It was also the 10th overall state title for the Red Knights, who continued their state championship dynasty under coach Dan Rolfes.
The Red Knights defeated Miller Career Academy 59-28 in the state semifinals as senior guard Marissa Warren had 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Senior forward Kiki Britzmann added 15 points. Britzmann scored a game-high 19 points in the state championship game against Lincoln Academy while senior center Rickie Woltman added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Southwestern Conference stands tall
The Southwestern Conference brought home not one, but two state championships from last weekend’s Illinois state basketball championships in Peoria. Belleville West defeated Evanston 71-59 to repeat as Class 4A state champions. Senior forward E.J. Liddell concluded his career as an Illinois high school legend after winning leading the Maroons to back-to-back state championships.
East St. Louis made history by winning its first state championship with a thrilling 68-63 overtime victory over Chicago Bogan. The Flyers were led by forward Terrance Hargrove Jr., who scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the championship game. Senior forward Richard Robinson sent the game into overtime with a spectacular tip dunk of a missed free throw at the buzzer of regulation.
Yuri Collins finishes strong
Senior point guard Yuri Collins put a young St. Mary’s team on his back and led the Dragons to a second-place finish in the Class 4 state tournament. Despite playing with an injured right knee, Collins scored a game-high 34 points in the Dragons’ 69-64 loss to defending state champion Grandview in the championship game. The 5’10” Collins averaged more than 30 points a game during the Dragons tremendous run in the state tournament.
Cadets take second place
The CBC Cadets made a strong run in the Class 5 state tournament, where they finished second to Columbia Rock Bridge, who won its first state championship with a 65-63 victory. Junior guard Caleb Love enjoyed a terrific Final Four, where he averaged 26.5 points a game. The 6’3” Love scored 28 points in the state championship game against Rock Bridge in the championship game. He scored 25 points in the Cadets’ 64-62 victory over Francis Howell in the semifinals, including the last seven points in the final minutes to rally the Cadets from a late deficit for the victory.