The East St. Louis Flyers moved a win away from school history at the Peoria Civic Center Friday.
Playing on the big stage in the environment in which he thrives, Flyers senior Terrence Hargrove posted a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds and East St. Louis used a lockdown defense in a 57-48 semifinal win at the Class 3A State Basketball Tournament.
With the 6-7 Hargrove getting off to a quick start with eight points, four rebounds and three blocked shots, the Flyers (29-6) took control of the game early, leading 18-10 after one quarter.
Manual, which has won 15 state tournament trophies and five championships, took a one-point lead midway through the third quarter, but with Hargorve and junior guard Jashawn Anderson leading the way, East St Louis regained a 40-36 lead entering the final period.
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Manual (19-12) would get no closer as East St. Louis made 7 of 10 free throws in the final 3:49 to advance to its first state championship game in school history.
“We made history today by getting to the state championship game. Now we want to make history again tomorrow,’’ Hargrove said following the win.
“I love playing in this type of atmosphere ... big game, the attention on me and having to make plays. It gets me even more focused.’’
Anderson added 14 points for East St. Louis, which will take on Chicago Bogan in the Class 3A state title game at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Bengals advanced with an easy 51-31 win over Chicago DePaul College Prep in the other semifinal game.
East St. Louis coach Mark Chambers said the Flyers got exactly what they expected from Manual.
“It was a battle and we expected a battle coming in. My guys played smart and we were able to pull out the win,’’ Chambers said.
“One of the keys was our defense. We were able to lock in. We ended up going to our half-court trap and our defense really did a good job on their top guys. That’s what we wanted to do coming in. We wanted to make everyone of their shots a tough shot and we pretty much accomplished that.’’
Rolando Brown led all scorers with 24 points. But Brown, who tallied seven of the Rams’ 15 total field goals, was the entire offensive show for hometown team, whose campus is just five miles from the Peoria Civic Center.
“It was a real struggle offensively from the outset. We weren’t just missing shots. We were missing shots badly,’’ Manual coach Willie Coleman said. “Their defense was very good.”
Trailing 26-22 at halftime, the Rams grabbed their first lead since early in the first quarter when Brown nailed a 15-foot jumper, followed by a free throw to put his team up 27-26.
But seconds later, Hargrove scored inside and Richard Robinson scored on back-to-back possessions to give East St. Louis the lead for good.
Limited to just to just two minutes of playing time in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, the 6-7 Robinson became a third option in the final two periods, scoring eight points and pulling down four rebounds.
Chicago Bogan (30-3)
Coach: Arthur Goodwin (10th season, 200-70)
Classification Enrollment: 778
Conference: Chicago Public
Last Season Advancement: The Bengals lost to Chicago (Morgan Park), 101-71, in Sectional Final
State Tournament history: This is the Bengals first state tournament appearance
Starting Five: G: Tyreon Hardin (5-10, sr. 6.7 points, 35 rebounds, 32 assists); G: Antonie Bloxton (5-11, jr. 12.5 points, 32 rebounds, 23 assists); G: Jordan Booker, (5-11, SR.), 15.2 points, 155 assists); G: Kyndal Davis (5-11, sr, 4.8 points, 42 rebounds, 28 assists); F; Rashuan Agee (6-8, sr., 19..3 points, 413 rebounds, 75 assists)
East St. Louis (29-6)
Coach: Mark Chambers (2nd season, 37-11)
Classification Enrollment: 1235
Last Season Advancement: Lost to Marion 71-68 in sectional final
State Tournament History: This is the Flyers 11th trip to the state finals
Starting 5: G: Jashawn Anderson (5-11, jr. 6.8 points, 45 rebounds, 139 assists); F: Richard Robinson (6-7, sr., 7.2 points, 186 rebounds, 34 assists) F: Elijah Rice (6-3, sr., 7.4 points, 89 rebouna, 90 assists); G: Cornelius LeFlore (6-4, sr. , 11.0 points, 33 rebounds, 27 assists); F: Terrence Hargrove (6-7, sr., 19.0 points, 290 rebounds, 37 assists)