LANARK, Ill. — Trying to fight back after a 10-point lead turned into an eight-point deficit, Fulton needed some inspirational plays to raise its spirits.
Tyler Bruggenwirth supplied them.
Bruggenwirth helped erase the deficit with his 1,000th career point and an energizing dunk, Kyle Schipper scored the go-ahead basket and Cody Sanderson sealed Fulton's 64-60 win against Polo with three free throws in the final half minute in Saturday's third-place boys basketball game at the Eastland Holiday Tournament.
"It was a good win for us, especially after losing a close one to Aquin (on Friday night in pool play)," Fulton's Keegan Kloepping said.
"We came out and played hard all four quarters and got the job done," Bruggenwirth said.
"The coaches talked about working hard for 32 minutes and playing hard all game, and we did that at the end," Schipper said. "We finally started pressuring them, they turned the ball over and we capitalized."
Kloepping and Bruggenwirth, who entered the game with 989 career points, led Fulton with 17 points each, Schipper had 11 and Sanderson scored eight as the Steamers improved to 13-4. Bruggenwirth and Sanderson were named to the all-tournament team.
"That was really cool," Sanderson said of Bruggenwirth's contributions. "When he dunked it, we got all the momentum."
"It was awesome," Coach RJ Coffey said of Bruggenwirth's milestone basket that came in the third quarter. "I knew the whole week he had a chance to get it here. I know he was kind of relieved to get it out of the way."
Bruggenwirth knew he was close to the milestone coming in to the game. He got it on rebound follow shot with 3:52 left in the third quarter, and the public address announcer recognized the feat later in the period.
"I did before the game, but while it was going I started playing ball," Bruggenwirth said. "When I got it I could tell. A thousand has always been one of my goals."
Kloepping played a key role in the first half, scoring 15 points before intermission and helping the Steamers build a 10-point lead, 26-16, in the second quarter.
"I just felt great," Kloepping said. "When they started going in it just got a lot easier, and I got a lot more loose about it and was able to hit a lot more."
But the Steamers were outscored 16-5 to close the first half and trailed 34-33 at halftime. Polo then opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go ahead 43-35 with 4:55 left in the third quarter on a 3-point basket by Braiden Soltow.
The Steamers got back in it when they closed the third quarter on a 7-1 run to get within 52-50 on a basket by Bruggenwirth. His dunk, with 4:08 left in the fourth quarter, cut the gap to 56-55
"The dunk was huge," Coffey said. "We were making a run and there was a guy right on the side and he still went up with it. The guys were jacked after that."
The final 3:33 featured five lead changes and two ties. Fulton went ahead to stay, 61-60, on Schipper's drive to the basket.
"I drove middle and saw Nate (Wierema) had the guy sealed, so I thought I might as well take it up," Schipper said. "I was going to go with the left (hand), but I didn't think I had a good angle so I figured I'd go up with the right and it went in. Once I shot it I was pretty sure it was going in."
When Fulton got the ball back, it went to a four-corners offense, and Sanderson cemented the win from the line.
"I'm confident in him knocking that shot down," Coffey said. "I want the ball in Cody's hands. I knew he was going to knock them down."
Sanderson made a pair with 27.3 seconds left and added 1 of 2 with 8.3 remaining.
"I was a little nervous, but I've shot a lot of free throws in my life, and I've got enough work in where I'm confident I can go in there and make two," Sanderson said.
Sanderson admitted that there was a little added pressure when the team went to the four-corners delay.
"It adds a little bit," he said, "but I know I've got to do my job. I've got to keep the ball safe, and if they foul, they foul, and I've got to knock down some free throws."
Coffey said he no qualms about calling for the four corners even though free-throw shooting is not a strength of the Steamers.
"Just because we don't shoot them well doesn't mean that we don't want to put ourselves in a spot where we can hit some free throws to extend a lead or take the lead.
"It was one of those things where we were up one, I like spreading them out. I thought that was a fast-paced game — up and down, up and down, up and down — so I thought they were a little tired, so I wanted to pull them out. Kyle and Keegan are two of our better free-throw shooters, too, so I figured if we went four corners ... we were going to catch our breath a little bit, spread them out and then ... go to a look where we were going to have Cody attack and find guys off the dribble.
"With his foul trouble (Sanderson sat out a good chunk of the second half after picking up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter) he was coming off fresh, and I thought their guys were a little tired, so I thought maybe we could get an advantage there with him going to the rack and making something happen."
Max Lemke also came up with a big defensive play in the final 20 seconds, saving a ball on the defensive end to prevent the Marcos from grabbing an offensive rebound.
"Max is one our smartest guys and always finds the ball," Coffey said.
Trevin Woodin led Polo (13-4) with 17 points, and Soltow and Brady Webb finished with 15 apiece. Woodin and Webb received all-tournament honors.
"That's a tough team," Coffey said. "They've got some athletes. They shoot the ball extremely well. We knew it was going to be that type of game. We knew it was going to be a game of runs."
Byron won the title with a 44-40 win against Freeport Aquin in Saturday's final game. Earlier, Eastland beat Stillman Valley 59-50 for fifth place, Prophetstown defeated South Beloit 68-54 for seventh and Warren beat Amboy 52-33 in the ninth-place game.
Other members of the all-tournament team were Prophetstown's Brayton Lavine, Zac Cummins of Aquin; Eastland's Ethan Christians; and Connor Harn, Tanner Klein and Pauly Rico of Byron.
Lavine did not play Saturday, but Logan Henrekin, Harrison Ames and Eric Robinson picked up the scoring to lead Prophetstown.
That trio combined for 53 points, including all 16 in the first quarter when the Prophets built an 11-point lead. Ames scored seven of his 15 in the opening period, including a 3-pointer, and Robinson added five of his 12.
Henrekin, who had four points in the first quarter, got hot later. He and Ames each scored six in the second quarter, then Henrekin poured in 14 more in the third quarter, including two 3-pointers and three two-point field goals. Henrekin finished with 26 points.
Travis Keen led three South Beloit players into double digits with 19 points. Santana Hernandez scored 11, and Miles Beckham added 10.
FULTON 64, POLO 60
FULTON (13-4) — Keegan Kloepping 6 1-2 17, Austin Schroeder 1 0-0 2, Larson Barnett 0 0-0 0, Cody Sanderson 2 3-4 8, Max Lemke 1 3-4 5, Tyler Bruggenwirth 8 1-3 17, Kyle Schipper 5 0-0 11, Jamison Osborn 0 0-0 0, Nate Wierema 2 0-0 4. Totals 25 8-13 64.
POLO (13-4) — Brady Webb 5 4-6 15, Trevin Woodin 5 4-4 17, Braiden Soltow 6 1-2 15, Reid Taylor 1 0-0 2, Draven Wells 0 0-0 0, Lane Hopkins 1 0-0 2, Justin Young 4 1-1 9. Totals 22 10-13 60.
Fulton 17 16 17 14 — 64
Polo 14 20 18 8 — 60
3-point goals — Fulton 6 (Kloepping 4, Sanderson, Schipper); Polo 6 (Woodin 3, Soltow 2, Webb). Total fouls — Fulton 17, Polo 12. Fouled out — None.
PROPHETSTOWN 68, SOUTH BELOIT 54
PROPHETSTOWN -- Aaron Hanrahan 0 0-0 0, Logan Henrekin 9 6-7 26, Kade Kovarik 2 0-0 4, Harrison Ames 5 4-6 15, Eric Robinson 4 3-3 12, Payton Gerlach 1 0-0 2, Dylan Hollenbach 1 0-0 3, Sam Jones 3 0-0 6, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Grant Minssen 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 13-18 68.
SOUTH BELOIT -- Santana Hernandez 4 0-0 11, Denny Passialis 1 2-4 4, Travis Keen 6 4-5 19, Miles Beckham 5 0-4 10, Tevin Hernandez 0 0-0 0, D'Andre Dogan 2 2-4 7, Cortez Johnson 1 1-2 3. Totals 19 9-19 54.
Prophetstown 16 17 21 14 -- 68
South Beloit 5 15 15 19 -- 54
3-point goals -- Prophetstown 5 (Henrekin 2, Ames, Robinson, Hollenbach); South Beloit 7 (S. Hernandez 3, Keen 3, Dogan). Total fouls -- Prophetstown 15, South Beloit 15. Fouled out -- None.