Sammy Green, the MVP of the Freeburg-Columbia Boys Holiday Basketball Tournament, scored 11 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Alton Marquette Explorers defeat Columbia 52-45, to capture the tournament championship Thursday night.
The Explorers finished the tournament a perfect 5-0, while the loss was Columbia’s only setback during the event.
Columbia’s Jordan Holmes led all scorers with 24 points, and Marquette’s Isaiah Ervin wasn’t far behind with 21. Those two carried the load early, and for a while, they were the only two players lighting up the scoreboard. Marquette outscored Columbia 7-4 in the fourth quarter, with Ervin and Holmes the only two players scoring in the period.
Marquette clung to a slim 29-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the rest of the Explorers stepped up and slowly stretched out the margin. Of Marquette’s 23 points in the final period, Ervin scored only 4.
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On the other side, Holmes continued to shoulder a majority of the workload, scoring all but seven of his team’s 22 second-half points.
“We had some wide-open shots that our role people have been hitting, and they didn’t go in,” Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom said. “When you get into a situation like that, where you have to rely so much on Holmes, which we have, that’s tough when the other players don’t make shots.”
Holmes did make plenty of shots – he was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer and hit all three free throws, and hit layups on the next two Columbia possessions.
“At one point I felt like a punching bag, because it was a prize fight,” Marquette coach Steve Medford said. “We’d hit a three, then they’d come down and hit a three. That’s what high school basketball is all about. You can’t help but laugh at it, but our guys stepped up and made some really nice plays down the stretch.”
Ervin scored 14 of Marquette’s first 29 points, but it was Green’s turn in the fourth quarter. The junior hit a trey, two layups and all four of his free throws in the final period, to go with his first-quarter 3-pointer. Junior Jake Hall also emerged late, scoring six points in the final stanza to give him 11 for the game.
Green was named the Tournament MVP. Ervin and Holmes were All-Tournament picks, along with Columbia’s Greg Long, who scored 10 points in the title game. The rest of the All-Tournament team was Dylan Hunt (Waterloo), Michael Chism (Valmeyer), Noah Moss (Triad), Caden Clark and David Lane (Civic Memorial) and Parker Weiss (Freeburg).