In what turned out to be the closest game of the 2023 Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament so far, the Illini West Chargers survived a 4th quarter comeback from the Southeastern Suns to take a 36-35 win. Southeastern carried an 18-17 lead into halftime, but we did not know what was in store for the roller coaster second half. The Suns had a nightmare 3rd quarter that saw them get outscored 12-2 and as a result, Illini West took a 29-20 lead into the final frame. The Chargers even scored the first 5 points of the 4th quarter and the lead swelled to 34-20. Then something stirred on the Suns sideline…because before we knew it, the Illini West lead shrank to 3 and the score was 36-33 with 1:55 left. After a Mason Fry layup, Southeastern had cut it to 36-35 with 33 seconds to play. Southeastern got two good looks with seconds to go, but a shot would not fall. Illini West would squeak by by 1.
Illini West had one double-digit scorer in Colby Robertson, who had 12 points. Wesley Robertson was the leading rebounder with eight boards. Colby also led the game with four assists and an incredible seven steals. The Chargers enjoyed a 24-12 advantage on points in the paint. A pattern they’ll need to continue if they want to challenge Pittsfield in the consolation semifinals.
Southeastern got a game-high 19 points and a team-high seven rebounds from senior Mason Fry. Owen Rigg swiped five steals. Both teams had 17 turnovers, but the Suns turned those into 14 points compared to the Chargers’ 10.
Illini West is rewarded with a date with a hungry #4 seed Pittsfield in the consolation semifinals. They will play Game 18, Saturday morning at 10:30am in Brophy Hall. Southeastern has been eliminated from the tournament.