CHRISTOPHER — Webber Township took the lead for good just 2:09 into the game and never looked back, beating Thompsonville, 67-33, to advance to the championship game against host Christopher at the 43rd Annual Christopher Turkey Tournament.
"Last year we didn’t do very good against a zone, and tonight they came out in that 3-2 zone, but we’ve got guys who can shoot the ball from the outside, so we’ve got some confidence against it this year," said Webber coach Brad Beaty. "We now have an inside-outside game that opens up the middle, and with Dylan Stratton making some 3’s that’s the zone buster."
The championship game will be a rematch from the 2015 title game, when Christopher beat Webber for the Bearcats' third title in a row.
"We’re 0-for against Christopher, but hopefully tomorrow night we come in healthy and put on a good game for everybody, because it will be a packed house," Beaty said.
Charles Neal led the game with 20 points for the Trojans with Stratton adding 16, including three 3-pointers.
"We were clicking tonight, and hopefully, we can bring it over to tomorrow night as well," Neal said. "The game plan was to attack the basket, drive and kick to open shooters."
Championship Saturday begins at 3 p.m., with Waltonville playing Zeigler-Royalton in the seventh place game, followed by NCOE taking on New Athens for the consolation championship at 4:30. New Athens beat Zeigler-Royalton, 79-50, in the consolation bracket game on Friday.
The third place game between Thompsonville and defending champion Wayne City will start at 6 p.m. followed by the championship game at 7:30.
"Wayne City is very talented, so our hands are going to be full again," said Thompsonville coach Peter Gordon. "Hopefully our size and length may help us and if we execute a little bit we can keep it close."
Webber (2-0) took a 6-4 lead on a 3-pointer by Stratton and never looked back. Stratton followed with a layup and Dalton Hart made 3-of-4 free throws to increase the lead to eight points. The lead remained there until Reed Raubach made his second 3-pointer of the quarter with 16.3 seconds left to cut the deficit to 17-12.
With five minutes left in the first half, Webber led by six, but the Trojans went on a 14-4 run, highlighted by four free throws by Dalton Adcock and a basket and a free throw by Neal, and ending with a 3-pointer by Stratton with 4.1 seconds remaining to give the Trojans a 36-20 lead at the half.
Anthony Darge scored on a layup to get the Tigers off to a good start in the third quarter, but Charles Neal stole the ball and scored to start a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 21 with 5:45 remaining in the third.
"The wheels kind of came off midway through the third quarter," Gordon said. "We kind of lost our composure and lost our way. It’s frustrating."
Corbin Fitch made back-to-back baskets for the Tigers, but Neal scored to stop the mini-run and when the ball came down the court, Fitch was called for charging. After he disputed the call, Fitch was two technicals and was ejected.
During the confusion, Neal had hurt his elbow, but shook it off and sank two of the four free throws. The Trojans finished the third quarter strong on a 5-0 run to take a 25-point lead into the fourth quarter.