Musketeers Finish 6th at Holiday Tournament

Jayden Birkner, Staff Writer

For the second year, the Musketeers played in the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament. Out of 16 teams, they were not ranked in the top 8 so they were unseeded. Their first matchup was with the Sparta Bulldogs.

Both offenses came out of the gate very strong. Colby Koester put in a layup, and Alex Kueker and Carter Wiegard each knocked down a three. Sparta put up 20 points of their own in the quarter. The Musketeers trailed 20-14 heading into the second.

The teams continued trading baskets throughout the second quarter. Jayden Birkner put in two two pointers and Max Diewald sank a three. The Musketeers gained some ground and cut the deficit to 4 going into half with a score of 30-26.

The Musketeers continued going to work on offense. Six different players put in buckets for them in the quarter. The deficit remained 4 going into the final quarter with a 42-38 score.

The Bulldogs put up a quick 6 points in the fourth to take a ten point lead over the Musketeers. The Musketeers had to figure something out offensively to stay in the ball game. Luckily, defensively is where they shined. They only have up 2 more points the rest of the way. The Musketeers were down 2 with under a minute left when Wiegard hit a pull up mid range jump shot to tie the score at 50. The Musketeers stood strong on defense for the Bulldogs final possession and sent the game into overtime.

The Musketeers stellar defense continued in overtime. They only allowed six points through the period. Wiegard and Kueker took care of scoring for the Musketeers and combined for 13 in overtime, both knocking down clutch free throws. The Musketeers took the victory 63-56

The following game the Musketeers took on the number one seed Goreville Blackcats. They were undefeated coming into the contest, so they knew they would have to be close to perfect to win the game.

The Musketeers battled with the Blackcats the entire first half. They never trailed by double digits. They did very well offensively throughout the half, as Kueker had 14 of his team high 16 points. Wiegard put in a 3 and Birkner had put up 6 for the team. The Musketeers battled defensively and were doing what they could to keep Goreville off of their game. The Musketeers trailed 38-30 going into half.

Unfortunately, the Musketeers began to unravel in the second half. After missed open layups and poor rebounding, the Blackcats proved to the Musketeers why they were the number one seed of the tournament. They began to put in bucket after bucket after the Musketeers struggled with their intense ball pressure and tough defense. The Musketeers stayed in the game as long as they could, but laid an egg in the second half. The final score was 74-45 in favor of Goreville.

The next matchup was against the Appleknockers from Cobden. They had beaten the Musketeers the previous year in this tournament. This game was a battle from start to finish. The Musketeers came out strong against the zone of the Appleknockers as Wiegard hit two 3 pointers and Kueker put in a layup. The Musketeers forced them out of the zone defense into a man defense. Cobden’s roster had a lot of height. Their offense was ran through one player, who was 6 foot 6 inches, but could also knock down three pointers. He was extremely hard to stop throughout the entire game. The Musketeers took a 18-11 lead at the end of the first.

Both teams played fairly even through the second quarter. Wiegard hit another 3 and Kueker hit a deep 3 pointer at the buzzer heading into half. The score was 30-25 at the break.

The game continued to be a slugfest through the third quarter. Both teams trading baskets and trading stops and remaining very close on the scoreboard. Kueker put in 5 points in the quarter and Birkner put up 4. The score heading into the fourth was 41- 38 in favor of Red Bud.

Cobden’s star player began to take over their offense in the fourth. He scored 16 of the teams 18 points in the quarter. The game continued being close through the whole quarter. With under a minute left the Appleknockers tied the game at 56. Wiegard could not knock down the three on the last possession, so the game went overtime.

The Musketeers played exceptional in overtime. Wiegard hit two 3’s early in the period which gave the team a lot of momentum. Birkner took a charge on the Cobden star which fouled him out of the game. The Appleknockers were lost offensively and did not know who to give the ball to score. The Musketeers knocked down clutch free throws and won the game 66-60. Wiegard finished with a career high 30 points and tied a school record with 8 3 pointers. Kueker had 19. Birkner had 11. Diewald had 6. This victory would put the Musketeers in the 5th place game.

The Musketeers final game of the tournament was against the host team Sesser-Valier Devils. The Musketeers started out slow in the first, but their defense kept them close. Amann put in 5 in the quarter as the Musketeers took a 12-10 lead into the second.

The game remained close throughout the second as both teams traded baskets, but the Devils took the upper hand and took the lead going into half at 23-21.

The second half was a battle from start to finish. Both teams gave it all they had to try and bring home some hardware. Neither team ever took a big lead. The game was tied going down the stretch in the fourth quarter. The Devils made a layup with 10 seconds left to take a late lead. Unfortunately, the Devils had many fouls to give and fouled the Musketeers up the court every time they inbounded the ball, which wasted time for the Musketeers to get a quality bucket. With 2 seconds left, Birkner inbounded the ball to Kueker, who threw up a prayer from three, but he did not connect. The Musketeers lost 43-41. Amann finished with 18 points.

The Musketeers had a fairly successful tournament, where they improved from last year’s 0-2 record. Wiegard was awarded all-tournament team. The Musketeers finished sixth place out of sixteen teams.

The Musketeers then had two non-conference games the following weekend. They first took on the Freeburg Midgets. The Musketeers played a very hard and aggressive game. Unfortunately, the shots the team usually knocked down were not falling that night. The team had 11 at halftime, but luckily were still in the game as they gave up 22. The Musketeers continued playing hard-nosed basketball. They were physical on the defensive end and did a great job rebounding. However, they could not overcome the missed shots and many missed shots. They lost the game 45-32. Wiegard finished with 14 points.

The next matchup the Musketeers had was against the Norris City Cardinals. This game was part of a shootout which was held at Elverado High School. The Musketeers again started out the game very slow and could not make shots they usually would. The only points in the first half were from Wiegard’s 4 3 pointers and a fastbreak layup from Parker Van Dorn. The Musketeers trailed 23-14 going into half. The second half was much of the same for the Musketeers, they could not find offense from anybody and were turning the ball over very often. It was a disappointing effort from the Musketeers as they lost 46-35.

The Musketeers take on Wesclin on Tuesday at 6 PM at home and play at Valmeyer Saturday at 6 PM.