The Metamora varsity boys basketball team earned two additional victories to boost its record to 13-1 and 5-0 in the Mid-Illini Conference.
MTHS played Peoria Central Jan. 8 for a 58-42 win and then challenged Morton Friday for a 47-37 victory.
Metamora was off to a slow start in its game against Central but still held the lead after the first quarter at 9-6.
Josh Dixon put in a three and a field goal and Nate Kennell added four points of his game total 27 from two field goals for the scoring in the first eight minutes.
Scoring was from across the roster on the Metamora side in the second quarter.
Merritt Stott, Grant Billimack and Michael Adams put up two points apiece. Dixon put in a 3-pointer and Nate had two field goals to contribute to the 13 points.
The Redbirds went into the intermission ahead 22-15 over the Lions.
Metamora came out of the halftime break to rack up 19 points and held Central to 11.
The Kennell brothers combined for 21 points in the third quarter. Nate put up 12 points from two field goals, two 3’s and making both of his free throw attempts at the line. Joe put in two field goals and a 3 and Billimack put in a field goal to contribute.
In the final eight minutes, Metamora was outscored for the first time of the game, 16-15, by Central.
Nate was still able to put seven points on the board. Billimack put in a field goal and two free throws and Stott and Adams put up a field goal apiece to finish up the scoring for the game.
The Redbirds then had a Mid-Illini dual with the Morton Potters Dec. 10.
Metamora (13-1, 5-0) outscored Morton (8-7, 3-2) in the first three quarters to secure the 47-37 lead.
“I think our toughness showed through and we just kind of gritted our teeth and worked through some rough spots,” said coach Danny Grieves.
Metamora gained an early 8-0 lead in the first four minutes after shots from the field and when Nate was fouled on a layup to give him the and-1, which he made.
Morton was held to just three points in the first quarter from a free throw and a jump shot.
“I think it was a little bit of what they did and a lot of what we did. We wanted to contain and contest every shot and give them no second put-back shots and no offensive rebounds early on,” Grieves said. “That was testimonial of what the score was.”
Adams closed out the scoring in the first quarter with a shot under the net after an offensive rebound from Nate’s jumper to make it 12-3.
Page 2 of 2 - At 4:37 in the second, Morton called its first timeout when down 14-8.
Metamora came out of the break and put in two 3’s by Dixon and Nate. Morton then called another timeout at 2:39.
The Potter’s Breck Swinford had a drive on the right side for two points, but Nate answered back with two of his own to make it 22-10.
Billimack went to the line at the 10.8 mark from bonus and sank both of his attempts to finish the scoring before the half.
Morton came back after intermission to lead a scoring run of 7-2 and put pressure on Joe before Metamora called its first timeout at 4:31.
“They doubled team (Joe), they diamond-and-one’d him one time. The great thing is, is when they do that to Joe, we’ve got other players that can knock a shot down and when they did that, (Dixon) hit a corner 3,” said Grieves. “We try to prepare for those kind of things and so does Joe. He didn’t panic, he didn’t throw the ball away, he didn’t get frustrated and he’s still our leader and go-to guy. He really shined tonight and I’m very proud of him.”
Both teams had a series of turnovers with no shots until Morton’s Cory Dullard went to the line for a and-1 shot after being fouled by Joe. The Potters lessened the deficit to 27-20 when Nate drained a 3 with an assist by Joe.
With one minute left in the third, Nate put in a quick jumper and then regained possession after the Potters fumbled the ball and put in a layup to make it 33-21 going into the final eight minutes.
Morton put on the offensive pressure in the fourth quarter and came back to just a four-point deficit at 3:25 after a 3 by Dullard to make it 36-31.
Shots from the free-throw line and field goals in the remaining minutes secured the win for the Redbirds.
Nate put up 23 points in the four quarters. Dixon was next in scoring with nine.