There are a lot of things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season and the RVC Inaugural Thanksgiving Classic basketball tournament are one of those things. The #1 ranked Rock Valley Golden Eagles entered the tournament with a 5-1 record on a three game win streak, looking to extend it to four. The unranked Kankakee Cavaliers left the tournament with a 2-6 record and they were looking to get within a game to the .500 mark.
Game One: Kankakee Cavaliers
The Golden Eagles started the game on a 5-0 run to where #25 Dalton Menke dropped two 3 pointers to make it 11-3. RVC did a great job for the following 5 minutes keeping Kankakee to 6 points and running the score to 21-9. #3 Terrence Lakes, after a couple of nice passes, drove to the paint and came out with 2 points from a layup (see video 1), making the score 23-9. The Cavaliers seemed to be out of sync, because there were multiple possessions that ended up sailing over the hoop. They called a timeout and shortly after saw some progress with two 3 pointers to keep them in the game. With less than seven minutes left in the first half there were two nice passes, from #2 Malique Ross to Menke, and then from Menke to #45 Alec Pena that resulted in two points (see video 2),pushing the score to 33-19.
Kankakee started to dwindle RVC’s lead and called a timeout with 2:51 left to play in the half and the score was 39-31. #10 DeAnte Barnes scored two points and an extra point from a hard layup. Then Kankakee had no response to end the half when Menke dropped two 3 pointers to close out the half (see video 3) with the score 48-31. The Golden Eagles capitalized on the Cavaliers timeout with a 9-0 run.
The second half of the game had a different tone with more whistles from the referees. In the first four minutes there were nine fouls. Until 12:44 left in the second half all of the Cavalier’s points came off of fouls which was fifteen points! The Cavaliers were already in bonus territory and did their part as a team on converting the fouls into points. By then the score was 62-46, but RVC responded quickly to their first bucket of the half with a drive right to the paint with four defenders around Ross for two points (see video 4). After some tough points from #11 Elijah Pappas as well as solid chemistry from #34 DeMari Davis and Barnes to add to the score, the Golden Eagles closed out the game and defeated the Kankakee Cavaliers 82-65.
RVC exhibited good strategies by efficiently moving the ball around to open lanes and for a player to take a shot. RVC never relinquished their lead at all the whole game. It was cool to witness whoever was on the Golden Eagle’s bench encourage their teammates on the court consistently. The Golden Eagles are now 6-1 with a four game winning streak. It was a good win and a win to truly be thankful for.
Game 2: Macomb Monarchs
Game 2 of the Thanksgiving Classic featured the #1 Golden Eagles 6-1 playing against the #19 Macomb Monarchs 4-1 who suffered their first loss of the season the night before. The game for RVC started differently than their last with the opposing team off to a hot start. The score was 3-14 with Macomb running the court the first 5 minutes before RVC could really respond. Then Barnes had a tip-in go his way and #23 Jace Kitchen on the next possession put down a three pointer which made it 9-16. After a couple of untimely fouls from RVC and belligerent yelling from the Monarch’s coach, they regrouped and started to extend their lead on the game.
The Monarchs were capitalizing on their pick and roll game, because the lane to the hoop would open up for a lay-up or leave one of their guys open for a jump shot. RVC had a little difficulty playing defense to their offense the first half, but saw a lot of production from #45 Alec Pena to close the first half out. After Pappas had a nice layup go his way, it was all Pena with the next 8 points from some tough gritty buckets that brought the score to 24-42 in favor of the Monarchs.
The second half started with three pointers with one coming from Pappas and then a basket from Ross. Interestingly enough, Macomb committed seven fouls in the next four minutes, which had RVC in Bonus territory after the first 4:42 minutes, and the score was 36-59. Two minutes later RVC had the Double Bonus in their favor due to the multitude of fouls that were committed. With less than ten minutes left to play, the score was 45-63 and Lakes had a great drive to the rim that made it 47-63 (see video). Shortly thereafter Macomb had another foul called on them to which Pappas sunk both baskets with great form to make it 49-63 (see picture).
With almost three minutes left #22 Garrett Schweighauser had a nice play by taking a shot, moving around a defender to get his own rebound, and then getting a basket- making it 62-74. Golden Eagles Coach Evan Lavery called a timeout to game plan the final 2:30 minutes trying to mount a comeback win, but unfortunately after a three pointer from Macomb, the Golden Eagles fell short 65-82 to the Monarchs.
The RVC Golden Eagles won the game on Friday night 82-65 and lost their game on Saturday afternoon with the same score, but on the loser’s end 65-82. They had a couple of chances to close in on Macomb’s lead, but untimely fouls were the killer in this game despite the numerous amount of fouls that Macomb committed. It will be intriguing to see how the Golden Eagles respond to this loss with their next game, Tuesday night against the 6-2 Kishwaukee Kougars.
On another note, there was a battle of coaching ideologies and strategies between both sides that was on display Saturday afternoon. This was not just an average matchup, but an insight on how two ranked teams can be coached and operated night and day from each other. There was an appreciation for RVC Coach Lavery that anyone who was at the game can verify in is his coaching style. Even though the Golden Eagles lost that game, there is still much to be thankful for.