SAVANNA, Ill. — An intense fourth quarter saw the Stockton Blackhawks push the Fulton Steamers to the edge during their boys basketball match-up Tuesday in the West Carroll Holiday Tournament.
“This is the first time where we’ve played a tight game late where they brought pretty good pressure,” Fulton coach RJ Coffey said.
The Steamers didn’t go over the edge, and they closed out the Blackhawks at the free throw line, winning 67-62.
The season scoring leader for Fulton, junior Zach Barber, who averages just over 15 points a game, lit up the Blackhawks for 15 points in the first half alone. Barber got the Steamers going with two 3-pointers right off the bat in the first quarter.
“First quarter, we were pretty hot,” Barber said.
“Well, Zach Barber with his 28 points kind of helps,” teammate Kyle Huebner, who finished with 16 points, said with a laugh. “He really got us going; he got our confidence boosted. He really sparked it.”
Senior Matt Dail snuck a triple from behind the arc in between Barber’s perimeter assault, putting up all 13 of his points in the first half. Barber sank 28 points in total on the night for the Steamers going 11-for-12 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Fulton built a 13-point lead at half, but Stockton began chipping away at the lead in the second half and saw junior Sam VenHuizen take control. He hit a 3 from outside to start the third quarter. Stockton began employing a full-court press on the Steamers midway through the third quarter, causing the Steamers fits.
“We kind of struggled at times, and we were trying to rush stuff way too much, but in the end we came out with a ‘W’ and we closed it out,” Huebner said.
The Blackhawks’ full-court pressure continued to give the Steamers issues through the rest of the second half, forcing a few too many turnovers and allowing Stockton back into the game. VenHuizen continued to knock down shots for the Blackhawks, but on the other end when the Steamers were given the chance to set up their offense, Huebner got hot from everywhere on the floor, building his confidence and helping keep Stockton at arm’s length.