Anyone left wondering about Jayson Tatum’s status as the best junior basketball player in the country should have been at the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout on Saturday.
The Chaminade College Prep star wowed a standing-room-only crowd of more than 3,000 with a 42-point explosion that included dunks, 3-pointers, fadeaways and power moves to the rim in an 80-66 victory over the East St. Louis Flyers.
The Flyers (15-6) more than held their own against the nationally ranked Red Devils (16-3), leading much of the way until Tatum’s offensive exploits allowed Chaminade to pull away late.
The 6-foot-9 junior had 16 points at halftime, then put on a show throughout the second half.
“Tatum is an NBA player,” said East St. Louis interim coach Hank Harris, whose team led 39-36 at halftime and 55-53 heading into the fourth quarter. “I told (my players) ‘We can’t worry about trying to stop him. Let’s stop the other guys so we can win the game.’ One guy can’t hardly beat you — I thought.
“You have to recognize (his ability) and you have to acknowledge it. I don’t enjoy losing but I enjoy playing competitively and I thought we did competitively well.”
The Flyers got 17 points from Tyrone Riley, 14 from flashy point guard Marquise “Pee-Wee” Chairs and 13 from 6-11 sophomore center Jeremiah Tilmon.
“We shined as a team,” Harris said. “Teamwork makes a dream work and that’s what we do. Our goal is to go to the state tournament and make a good run.”
The only available space available in the Panther Dome by the final game was on the court itself, in the aisles and up in the rafters. The first-time event was a huge success.
“It was a great atmosphere, great teams,” Harris said. “We enjoyed every minute of it. The shootout was run perfectly and we’re looking forward to next year.”
The game was tied 58-58 early in the fourth quarter when Chaminade’s Mike Lewis drained a 3-pointer. The Red Devils created some breathing room after that with Tatum, who averages 26.9 points, doing much of the damage.
Morris 52, Columbia 47: Morris guards Evan Bjelland and Austin Patterson combined for 40 points as the Redskins overcame a slow start to knock off Columbia in the leadoff game of the shootout.
Bjelland, a senior four-year starter, was named the Most Valuable Player after knocking down 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. That included two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help keep the Eagles’ comeback hopes on the rocks.
Patterson had five 3-pointers among his 17 points, hitting five of his nine tries from beyond the arc for the Redskins (16-7).
Morris coach Joe Blumberg grew up in Freeburg and had a big contingent of family and friends in the stands that included his father, former Freeburg Hall of Fame coach Fred Blumberg.
“It was great to see a lot of family in the crowd and guys that coached me, that was special seeing Coach (Gary) Hearne and Coach Bayers and some of my former coaches,” Joe Blumberg said. “I wasn’t real happy with our execution or intensity early, but we were able to make some shots later. Our senior guards played well the second half.”
Normal 46, Collinsville 36: The Kahoks trailed from start to finish against the Ironmen, whose defense frustrated Collinsville throughout the game.
Normal (21-1), ranked sixth in the Class 4A state poll, led 16-13 in the first half, and after Collinsville trailed 16-15, 20-18 and 22-20 in the third quarter, the Ironmen used a 12-2 run to take 34-22 with 5:14 to play.
The Kahoks (15-10) were no closer than eight in the five minutes.
“They’re pretty good defensively,” Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. “Any time you’ve got a record like that, you’re a great defensive team. We knew that coming in, though. We ran a lot of set plays and didn’t get much. We got a few good shots that rimmed out early that we thought could have went down.”
Emondre Rickman, a 6-8 senior, had 10 points for Collinsville, including a monster jam on an out-of-bounds lob from senior Nic Gonet with five minutes left in the first quarter.