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Spartans' 3s bury Montini, Sycamore to play for regional crown

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 10:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:10 p.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Sycamore's Daniel Evans smiles back at the roaring of the crowd after a good play in the fourth quarter of the Class 3A semifinal regional game Tuesday against Montini Catholic. Sycamore won, 83-49.

GENOA – Every time a Sycamore player lined up to shoot a 3-pointer, they seemed to be wide open.

Those 3s had no problem going in for the Spartans in Tuesday's 83-49 win over Montini in the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Regional semifinal.

Top seed Sycamore (21-7) hit 11 threes – five of them coming from senior guard Cooper Vinz, who led the Spartans with 19 points.

"We've always focused on getting the ball inside and kicking it out to our shooters. I think that's what we did tonight. We haven't really been shooting very well," Vinz said. "They key to getting our shot back on is keep shooting, and that's what we've been told to do. So, getting the ball inside and kicking it out to our shooters is kind of our game."

Senior guard Mark Skelley opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back-to-back threes and finished with 13 points. Senior forward Ben Niemann added 12 and fellow senior forward Devin Mottet chipped in 11.

"We talk about being balanced. I think it's a double-edged sword," Spartans coach Andrew Stacy said. "You need to have your post guys be able to score, and keep the guys guarding the perimeter guys honest, and you need your guys to knock some shots outside to get some one-one-one matchups inside as well, and we were fortunate enough to have both sides working tonight."

The fourth-seeded Broncos only trailed Sycamore by one point at the end of the first after Montini's Matt Brachmann hit a three at the buzzer, but Sycamore pulled away in the second and never looked back.

A Nick Feuerbach three made it 16-9 Spartans with just over six minutes left, and a Vinz layup with 2:50 left in the half gave Sycamore a 28-15 lead. The Spartans led 35-18 at the half.

Sycamore went on an 8-2 run to start the second half with the help of three buckets from Niemann. A Mottet three in the final 10 seconds gave the Spartans a 57-26 lead, which they took into the fourth quarter.

"We came out slow. Coach told us, don't let this team get on you because they can [run] past you," Vinz said. "So, we just needed to pick up our defense and once we did that, we started getting more steals and stops and that opened up more lanes for Ben, Devin, and then our shooters, like Nick."

Sycamore advances to Friday's regional final, where the Spartans will take on the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between second-seeded Wheaton Academy and third-seeded Burlington Central.

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