Redbirds finish second in tourney
Headed into holiday tournament action, Metamora coach Danny Grieves was hoping the Redbirds could keep up the momentum after a thrilling overtime win on Dec. 19 at Bartonville Limestone.
If the first three games of the Macomb-Western Holiday Basketball Tournament were any indication, Grieves got his Christmas wish.
The Redbirds, ranked No. 1 in the tournament, kept their hot streak alive with three straight wins in tourney action, topping Mount Sterling Brown County, Camp Point Central and Carthage Illini West to clinch a spot in the championship round.
However, the Redbirds ran into trouble in the final round against Taylor Ridge Rockridge, and in the end, Metamora (11-1, 4-0) took its first loss of the season in a three-point, overtime loss.
Metamora 66, Brown County 29
In the first game of tourney action Friday, the Redbirds took control early and never let up, handing Mount Sterling Brown County a 66-29 drubbing.
Metamora came out shooting, opening the game with a 10-0 run, and never surrendered the lead.
The Hornets answered with a jumper from sophomore Carter Lewis, but Metamora drained seven straight to take an early 17-2 lead.
Metamora only allowed six more points from Brown County as the Redbirds closed out the first frame with a 25-8 lead.
Things wouldn’t get much easier for Brown County in the second quarter, as Metamora allowed just nine points from the Hornets while an additional 14 to take a 39-17 lead at the half.
The Hornets struggled to slow the Redbirds down in the third, as Metamora outscored Brown County 12-9 to take a 51-26 lead into the final frame.
Metamora opened the fourth quarter with an offensive burst, draining 13 unanswered to take a 64-26 lead.
The Redbirds’ defense stymied the Hornets in the fourth quarter, allowing just three points in the fourth, all of them coming on free throws. The Hornets finished the fourth quarter shooting 0 for 5 from the field.
Kennell poured on 29 points for. Kennell finished the night shooting 10 for 16, including seven 3-pointers on 12 attempts.
Senior Josh Dixon followed Kennell with 18 points, shooting 8 for 14 from the field.
Kennell also led the teams in rebounds with nine — eight of them on defense. Senior Merritt Stott followed with seven rebounds, and junior Jordan Dehm pulled down six.
Metamora shot 47.3 percent from the field.
On defense, the Redbirds notched five blocks, led by Dehm with two, and forced seven steals, led by Stott and Dehm with two apiece.
Metamora 55, Camp Point Central 35
Round 2 saw a rematch between two familiar foes, with Metamora and Camp Point Central meeting for the fifth consecutive year.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, it would prove to be the fourth straight Redbirds win as Metamora advanced to the semifinals with a 55-35 win.
Just as the Redbirds did against Brown County, the Redbirds built an early lead on some sharp shooting.
Metamora opened the game shooting 4 of 5 from the field and scoring nine unanswered points to take an early 11-2 lead.
The Panthers answered back with a jumper from senior Taylor Heimann, but the Redbirds sank another six straight to close out the first frame with a 17-4 lead.
Metamora began the second quarter with a 7-2 run to go up 24-6.
However, Central mustered just five points to Metamora’s 16, and the Redbirds sent the game to halftime with a 33-11 lead.
In the third quarter, the Redbirds jumped out to a 38-13 lead, but a Heimann free throw and a 3-pointer from sophomore Lane Marlow narrowed the gap to 21 points. However, that was all the Panthers could put together in the third, and the Redbirds hit five unanswered to close out the quarter with a 43-17 lead.
Central opened the fourth quarter with a 6-3 run, but a layup from Dixon increased the Metamora lead to 48-23.
The Panthers outscored the Redbirds 12-7 in the final three minutes, but by then, the game had gotten too far out of reach, and Metamora cruised to its 10th straight win on the season.
Kennell led the Redbirds with 20 points, shooting 8 for 11 from the field and 3 for 5 from the 3-point range. Kennell also added a pair of blocks for the Redbirds.
Dixon tacked on nine points on a 4-for-8 effort, and junior Michael Adams tacked on eight points, shooting 1 for 2 from the field and 6 for 6 from the free-throw line.
The Redbirds outrebounded the Panthers 24-16, and eight steals to Central’s four.
Metamora finished the night shooting 55.9 percent from the field, and hit 11 of 15 from the free-throw line.
Metamora 58, Illini West 39
The Redbirds kept the winning streak alive in their first game Monday, topping Carthage Illini West by a score of 58-39.
Metamora opened the game by building a 12-5 lead to end the first quarter, capitalizing on nine rebounds in the first frame alone.
The Redbirds opened the second quarter with a 7-2 run, going up 19-7.
Illini West answered back with a 3-pointer from junior Jacob Douglas, who drilled another from beyond the arc after a layup from Metamora senior Jon Herr.
Up 21-13, the Redbirds scored five unanswered to double Illini West's score, but the Chargers answered back with their own 5-0 run to cut the lead to 26-18.
Metamora ended the second frame with two successful free throws by Kennell, sending the game to halftime with the Redbirds up 28-18.
Illini West opened the third-quarter scoring with a tip-in from senior Nolan Ard, but Metamora hit four straight to go up 32-20.
From there, the Redbirds used a 6-2 run to increase their lead to 38-22.
The Chargers would hit five unanswered on a 3-pointer by Douglas and a jumper from senior Colton Mellinger.
Adams hit a layup for Metamora to increase the Redbird lead by 13, but a layup from Ard would bring the Chargers within 11.
However, a 3-pointer from Dixon with 7 seconds remaining would send the game into the final frame with Metamora up 43-29.
Ard opened the fourth quarter for Illini West with a jumper to bring the Chargers back within 12, but another 3-pointer from Dixon put Metamora ahead 15, up 46-31.
Two free throws from Ard would cut Metamora's lead to 13, but the Redbirds hit nine unanswered points to take a 55-35 lead, their largest lead of the game.
The Chargers would drain four more points on a jumper and a layup, but the Redbirds tacked on three more points to put the game away once and for all.
Kennell led the Redbirds with 22 points, shooting 5 for 6 from the free-throw line, followed by Dixon with 17 points.
Dehm led the Metamora rebounders with nine — six on defense — followed by Stott with six, including five on defense.
Rockridge 54, Metamora 51
In a rematch of the 2013 final, it looked as though Metamora would get its revenge on the defending champion Rockets, taking an 11-point lead in the second half.
However, Rockridge refused to go down, edging the Redbirds by a score of 54-51 in overtime and dealing Metamora its first loss of the 2014-15 season.
The Redbirds came out shooting to open the game, jumping out to an 8-1 lead, with Dixon knocking down five and Dehm hitting three.
A 3-pointer by Rockridge junior T.J. Martens cut the lead to four, but Metamora answered back with another 3-pointer from Dehm to go up 11-4.
After going up 13-8, Metamora used a 5-2 run to close out the first frame, up 18-10.
Rockridge sophomore Gentry Whiteman cut the lead to five with a 3-pointer to open the second quarter. After allowing a Kennell layup, the Rockets got two more 3-pointers from seniors Bryan Heath and Luke Johnson, slashing the Redbirds' lead to just one point.
Heath would tie the game at 20 apiece with a free throw at the 4:47 mark, then gave the Rockets their first lead of the game with a layup, putting Rockridge ahead 22-20.
Another Heath free throw completed Rockridge's 10-point run, but the Redbirds came storming back, knocking down nine straight to go up 29-23 heading to the half.
The Redbirds opened the third frame with five unanswered, building an 11-point lead early in the second half.
The Rockets answered back with a 5-0 run, however, to cut the lead to 34-29.
Metamora ballooned its lead to 41-32 at the 2:13 mark, but two more 3-pointers from Heath and Whiteman cut the Redbirds' lead to three points.
Adams would close out the third quarter with a layup to put Metamora on top 43-38.
After knocking down a free throw and surrendering a jumper to Metamora, Rockridge hit four straight to narrow the gap to just two points.
An Adams layup gave Metamora a four-point cushion, but another 3-pointer from Whiteman cut the lead to just one point with 2 minutes, 52 seconds left in regulation.
Two Martens free throws gave the Rockets a 48-47 lead with 1 minute, 43 seconds remaining, and another free throw by Heath doubled the Rockets' lead with just 59 seconds left.
However, the Rockets put Kennell at the line for Metamora with 43 seconds left. Kennell hit both shots to tie the game at 49 apiece.
On Rockridge's ensuing possession, Adams forced a steal for Metamora. After a Redbirds timeout, Adams would attempt a layup, but the shot didn't find the net.
Kennell pulled down the offensive rebound, and after another Metamora timeout, the Redbirds set up Dixon for a 3-pointer with 1 second left. However, the shot missed, sending the game to overtime.
Heath opened up the extra frame with two free throws, giving the Rockets a 51-49 lead, but Kennell earned a trip to the line himself, knocking down both shots to tie the game.
However, Metamora gave Rockridge another chance at the line, fouling Martens with 30 seconds left.
Martens hit the first shot, but the second found its way into Stott's hands.
However, the Redbirds turned the ball over, and yet another foul put Heath at the line for the Rockets; he would sink both shots to give the Rockets a three-point lead.
With 3 seconds left in overtime, the Redbirds set Dehm up beyond the arc for a chance to tie.
However, his shot missed, and the Redbirds couldn't get another one off in time, and for the second year in a row, Rockridge came away with a tourney title at Metamora's expense.
Kennell led the Redbirds with 21 points in the title game, followed by Dixon with 11, Adams with 10 and Dehm with nine.
Both Kennell and Adams pulled down seven rebounds to lead Metamora, followed by Stott and Dehm with five apiece.
The Redbirds will return home to host Mid-Illini Conference rival East Peoria at 7 p.m. Jan. 6.