CENTRALIA — The Cahokia Comanches have a veteran squad, and that maturity showed during the championship game of the Centralia Holiday Tournament.
Leading 49-37 going into the fourth quarter, the Comanches protected that lead by patiently working the clock.
"It's a lot of hollering and losing my voice,'' Cahokia coach Darian Nash said. "They want to get up and down the court, but when it's time to slow it down, you need to slow it down.''
The Comanches saw their lead dip under double digits, but they were able to hold off the Jacksonville Crimsons for a 65-58 victory and their third tourney championship in the last four years.
"Our maturity showed when they made their run, but we withstood their run and still executed our offense and were patient at times,'' Nash said.
The Comanches also made enough of their free throws.
Free-throw shooting was the Comanches' big bugaboo last season, but they made 19 of their 30 free-throw attempts against the Crimsons and 16 of their 24 free-throw attempts in a 70-60 win over the Belleville West Maroons in the semifinals.
"That was the focus this summer: Getting better at the free throw line,'' Nash said. "They constantly worked on it. We're happy to see the results from our hard this summer.''
Seniors Keenan Minor and Vincent Jackson each scored 19 points in the championship game.
Minor also had 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
For the tourney, Minor was 13-for-24 on 3-point attempts, including several from way behind the arc.
The Comanches' depth also was evident as they got eight points from Darius Austin, seven points from Carleton Rivers and six points from both Derenzo Jennings and Gary Hickman.
The Comanches open the 2013 portion of their schedule with a South Seven road game against Althoff on Friday.
Toughing it out
Despite playing with a sprained wrist, Belleville West's Nick Van Osdale scored 90 points and dished out 18 assists in the Maroons' four games in the tourney.
Van Osdale scored a team-high 21 points, including 5-for-8 from the 3-point line, in the Maroons' 53-49 win over the Chicago Marist RedHawks in the third-place game.
"He's a special player, and he's been special since he was a freshman,'' West coach Joe Muniz said of Van Osdale. "We knew coming in that he was going to be a special kid, but I don't know if I knew how tough he was.
"I don't know if any player who has taken the falls that he has taken over the course of the season and keeps bouncing back up.''
Van Osdale said his wrist should benefit from the Maroons having only two games over the next two weeks.
"Rest is the biggest key for this injury,'' Van Osdale said. "The coaches keep telling me that if my shot is off try to get to the goal as much as possible.''
The Maroons also got big contributions from their bench during the third-place game.
"We told our kids that we were going to need everybody to play,'' Muniz said. "We got great contributions from Kyle Sweeney, Sherand Boyd, LaDarcus Ford, and then our bigs, Cole Henke, came in and gave us a lift.
"It was a great team effort. To go 3-1 in this tournament and be 9-3 on the season with the schedule we play, I couldn't be more proud of my kids.''
Next up for the Maroons is the Alton Redbirds on Friday in a Southwestern Conference road game.
Marist guard L.J. McIntosh, who scored 99 points in his team's four games in the tournament, was chosen as the Most Valuable Player.
Minor, Van Osdale, Jacksonville's Josh Peak and Oak Lawn Richards' Josh Meier made up the first team of the all-tourney team.
The second team consisted of: (Burbank) St. Laurence's Jim Schick, who led all scorers in the tourney with 109 points; McCluer North's Rashad Lindsey, Austin, Centralia's Jerod Simmons-Young and Belleville West's Markkies Goodwin.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.