Effingham Daily News
Teutopolis' Reed Hardiek was still showing the signs from the last time he played at Effingham when his Wooden Shoes faced the Flaming Hearts Saturday for the Effingham-Teutopolis Christmas Classic title.
During the Shoes' 44-41 win on Dec. 17, Hardiek hit the floor hard and had an Effingham player land on top of him, cutting his chin open. He would need stitches and missed the rest of the game with that and the fear of a concussion.
With the chin still bandaged up Saturday, Hardiek was the Shoes' star, scoring 18 points as Teutopolis bested Effingham 52-37 to take home the inaugural championship.
It was a big moment for the Shoes and for Hardiek.
"That night, whenever I got hurt, it was hard for me," he said. "I was sitting on the bench, and I just wanted to be out there with my team.
I wanted to play so bad and help them out. It was good to come back and be able to play them again and be able to help the team out."
Hardiek also scored 29 points in the Shoes' 68-57 win over Mattoon earlier Saturday. Effingham (7-3) advanced to the title game with a 69-47 win over Chicago Al Raby Saturday as well.
For Teutopolis coach Andy Fehrenbacher, the tournament held in Effingham County was a rousing success.
"It's an honor to be associated with the team that won the first ever Effingham-Teutopolis Christmas Classic," he said. "Awfully proud of our team."
The title game was predictably back-and-forth, with the two-long time rivals trading blows across the first half.
Teutopolis (9-2) led 13-11 after the first quarter, and the lead would change hands four times in the second, only to see Teutopolis regain a 24-20 lead at the half.
The Shoes began to pull away in the third quarter behind Hardiek, Mette and Bobby Wenthe, leading 34-26 in the quarter's waning seconds as Effingham had only scored six points in the frame.
But Leighton Lark hit a buzzer-beating three to make it 34-29, and Isaac Foreman had a three-point play two minutes into the fourth to cut the lead to two.
Then, the Shoes' defense began swarming, holding Effingham scoreless for 4:06 as they pushed the lead to 11.
"I watched this same scenario yesterday afternoon when they played Mt. Vernon," said Effingham coach Ron Reed. "They do a great job on defense. We would get the ball inside but they did a good job getting up in you."
While the defense picked up a notch against the Hearts, they didn't help themselves much, Reed said.
"I thought shooting 43 percent from the free-throw line doesn't help," he said.
Foreman led Effingham with 16 points, and Lark had just five points as the second-highest mark on the team.
Again, it was the defense that kept the Hearts in check, with Cody Will guarding Lark the majority of the game and holding the Hearts' scorers down. Fehrenbacher credited all his players for the defense, including Michael Drees, Mette, Ryan Sandschafer and Wenthe.
"Cody and Leighton have been doing battle against each other for many years," Fehrenbacher said. "Cody was very focused on the defensive end tonight. We tried to put a lot of pressure on their main ballhandlers."
Hardiek had 18 points, Bobby Wenthe had 10 points and nine rebounds and Brett Mette scored 10 points of his own.
The all-tournament team was led by Hardiek and Will from T-Town, Lark and Kevin Daugherty from Effingham, Mt. Vernon's Shakari Hawkins and Braden Fitzjerrells, and Mattoon's Tanner Scott.
While it was a big honor for Hardiek, he knew what really mattered.
"It's good, it's not all about individual," he said. "T-Town basketball has always been team."
Mt. Vernon bested Al Raby for third, and Mattoon defeated Charleston for fifth.
Teutopolis 13 11 10 18 52
Effingham 11 9 9 8 37
Teutopolis: Drees 2, Will 7, Borries 1, Wenthe 10, Kenter 2, Hardiek 18, Mette 10, Sandschafer 2
Effingham: Mahaffey 4, P. Knight 4, Lark 5, Wolfe 1, Daugherty 3, Foreman 16, Carie 4
Shoes shoot lights out
To get to the title game, Teutopolis came out firing from three-point rangeand blitzed Mattoon in a 68-57 win.
Teutopolis was 12-of-17 shooting from the land of plenty in the first half, led by 23 points and six threes from Hardiek.
"We just exploited their weaknesses," he said. "Finally, today, we got everyone shooting good."
The Shoes led 44-23 at the half, and while Mattoon scraped back, the barrage of first-half threes was more than enough.
It was something they wanted to attack from the get go, Fehrenbacher said.
"We had a feeling that was something we could exploit against their zone," he said. "When you find those skip passes and have zone playing the way they did, those opportunities are going to present themselves."
Hardiek had 29 points in the morning win, Mette scored 15, and Will and Ryan Sandschafer each had eight points.
Mattoon 9 14 10 24 57
Teutopolis 23 21 12 12 68
Mattoon: Price 3, Chupp 2, Smith 2, Wetzel 4, Hutchinson 7, Kittell 10, Pilson 6, Scott 23
Teutopolis: Drees 3, Will 8, Wenthe 2, Kenter 3, Hardiek 29, Mette 15, Sandschafer 8
Hearts handle Al Raby
Effingham overcame a furious rally by Chicago Al Raby, seeing a 22-point halftime lead shrink to six before ultimately winning 69-47.
The Hearts handled themselves well, as Al Raby got in foul trouble early in the third quarter and couldn't stop racking up the fouls.
In addition to the regular calls, the Raiders were charged with three technical fouls, one on their coach and two on their players as the game got more physical.
"It's one of those things, the heat of the moment type deal, and I thought our kids handled it well," Reed said.
Lark had 26 points and Daugherrty scored 18 as Effingham got into the lane early and often before all the second-half free throws.
"We did a nice job of cutting and hitting people when they were open and executing well," Reed said.
Chicago Al Raby 11 4 23 9 47
Effingham 19 18 10 22 69
Al Raby: Echols 14, Rogers 1, Presley 2, Anderson 12, Mayfield 2, Phillips 2, Dosie 9, Brown 1, Milan 4
Effingham: Bone 2, Robinson 5, Mahaffey 3, Wohltman 6, Lark 26, Wolfe 5, Foreman 2, Daugherty 18, Carie 2
Mattoon 17 22 18 25 82
Charleston 8 12 8 14 42
Mattoon: Price 8, S. Scott 3, Chupp 1, Smith 5, Armstrong 2, Wetzel 6, Hutchinson 10, Kittell 20, Pilson 10, Raboin 2, T. Scott 15
Charleston: Huddleston 6, Gowin 9, McInerney 4, Strader 7, Bell 9, Braden 2, Crews 1, Smith 2, Hoover 2
Mt. Vernon 19 9 18 24 70
Al Raby 11 16 13 23 63
Mt. Vernon: Reeves 1, Nelson 5, Fitzjerrells 28, Gardner 4, Hawkins 16, Pike 16
Al Raby: Echols 17, Presley 3, Anderson 16, Mayfield 10, Barnhart 6, Dosie 6, Brown 2, McGee 2, Milan 2