35th Annual McDonalds/Herald Whig Classic

Quincy High’s Aaron Shoot and game MVP Ben Amos.

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jun. 16, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jun. 16, 2018 11:55 pm

QUINCY — A playful prediction brought about a passionate response.

The Illinois boys wanted everyone to take note of that, too.

After Easton Billings buried a 3-pointer to give Illinois a 61-47 lead with nine minutes remaining in regulation Saturday night in the 35th annual McDonald’s/Herald-Whig Classic boys game, the Land of Lincolners called a 30-second timeout.

It was simply to acknowledge the score.

Chandler Bevans predicted publicly that Missouri would win 82-60. Whether it was meant to be playful or boastful didn’t really matter to the Illinois all-stars. They took it as a challenge.

“The boys didn’t know it, but I told Aaron (Shoot) when we got over 60 to call a timeout,” Illinois coach Curtis Stout said. “It was like, ‘Hey, Chandler, we got over 60.’ We did it, but I was completely afraid that we were going to make Chandler mad, and he was going to go off and Missouri would go on a run.”

The Show-Me State did make it interesting, trimming the deficit to single digits on three occasions in the final three minutes. However, Illinois held on for a 76-68 victory at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center.

It was the lowest scoring game in Classic history with 144 total points scored, and Illinois’ 76 points is the lowest total for a winning team in Classic history.

None of that mattered in the end. Only one thing did.

“82-60. Enough said,” said Ben Amos, the Quincy High School forward who was named the most outstanding player for Illinois, which won for the ninth straight time and 33rd overall.

Bevans’ prediction appeared in print and online Saturday morning, and word of it quickly spread throughout the Illinois roster.

“We all have a group chat now,” Pittsfield’s Noah Mendenhall said. “We titled the group chat ’82-60.’ We walked into practice (Saturday) morning and Coach Stout already had 82-60 written on the board. I was like, ‘All right, let’s go.'”

Illinois never let go of that motivation.

Missouri was held scoreless the first four minutes, didn’t make its second basket until 12:36 remained in the first half and trailed by double digits after Brown County’s Tanner Sussenbach buried a 3-pointer from the left wing.

“A 10-point deficit felt like we were trailing by 60,” Missouri coach Ryan Wood said.

That’s because Missouri shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the first half, going 6 of 22 from inside the 3-point stripe.

“We didn’t capitalize like we should have and didn’t make the shots like we could have in the first half,” said Palmyra’s Peyton Plunkett, who was named Missouri’s most outstanding player after finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. “I’m glad we could make it a game and make it enjoyable for everyone.”

A short stretch of the second half made a comeback unlikely.

Missouri trailed 35-27 when Illinois went on a 9-1 run, highlighted by a three-point play by Mendenhall and a dunk in transition by Amos.

“At halftime, we said, ‘We’re beating them, but we’re not beating them by enough,'” Mendenhall said. “We went ahead and put the gas pedal down and just kept playing.”

So did the Show-Me State.

Illinois’ lead grew as big as 16 points on Amos’ dunk and stayed between 11 and 15 points until Mark Twain’s Grant Peters made a hook shot with 5:25 to play that trimmed the deficit to 67-58.

Amos, who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, pushed the lead back to double digits by making two free throws 12 seconds later, and his layin with 4:33 to go had Illinois up 72-58.

A six-point run capped by a 3-pointer from Clark County’s Cole Kirchner trimmed the deficit to 72-64. Missouri never got any closer.

“We said if we got down at any point, we were going to put the grit down and make it a game,” Plunkett said.

A layup by Shoot, who had 11 points and six assists, and two free throws by Mendenhall, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, in the final two minutes put the game away.

“What made it more fun was the talent that was here,” Mendenhall said. “The atmosphere was crazy. It was awesome.”

Boys

35th Annual McDonald’s/Herald-Whig Classic

Illinois 76, Missouri 68

MISSOURI (2-33)

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb pf pts

Francis 0-7 6-8 5 3 6

Plunkett 5-12 6-10 10 3 16

Bevans 4-15 0-2 8 1 8

Smith 1-4 2-2 3 1 5

Miller 4-6 0-0 2 3 11

Pence 1-4 2-2 5 3 5

Waelder 2-5 0-0 2 2 4

Johnson 0-1 0-0 4 1 0

Kirchner 1-8 1-3 4 0 4

Peters 4-10 1-3 8 2 9

Team 0

Totals 22-72 18-30 51 19 68

ILLINOIS (33-2)

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb pf pts

Shoot 5-11 0-0 4 3 11

Klusmeyer 2-6 0-2 0 1 5

Mendenhall 3-9 4-8 7 3 11

Billings 6-11 0-0 4 2 14

Amos 7-15 5-7 8 4 20

Sussenbach 3-9 2-4 3 1 9

Little 0-4 0-0 4 3 0

Drake 2-6 0-1 5 4 4

Wallingford 1-1 0-0 5 4 2

Team 1

Totals 29-72 11-22 41 25 76

Halftime score — Illinois 34, Missouri 25. 3-point field goals — Missouri 6-27 (Francis 0-4, Plunkett 0-2, Bevans 0-4, Smith 1-2, Miller 3-5, Penc 1-3, Waelder 0-2, Kirchner 1-5), Illinois 7-31 (Shoot 1-4, Klusmeyer 1-3, Mendenhall 1-5, Billings 2-4, Amos 1-3, Sussenbach 1-5, Little 0-4, Drake 0-3). Assists — Missouri 10 (Smith 3), Illinois 18 (Shoot 6). Steals — Missouri 5 (Francis, Bevans, Pence, Kirchner, Peters), Illinois 12 (Little 4). Blocks — Missouri 2 (Bevans, Miller), Illinois 4 (Amos 2). Turnovers — Missouri 18, Illinois 15. Officials — Bill Treaster, Wayne McPike Noah Brinkman.