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SOMONAUK -- The Seneca boys basketball team hadn't played in over a week, so it would have been somewhat understandable if they had come out a little sluggish in their regional opener against fellow Interstate Eight member Plano.
That, however, didn't happen to the top seeded, undefeated and No. 1 ranked Irish in Thursday night's semi-final game as they ended the Reapers season with a 70-51 victory, that now puts Seneca in the title game of the IHSA Somonauk Class A regional at 7:30 p.m. tonight against the Royals from Hinckley-Big Rock.
"It's always nice to get your first win at regionals," Seneca head coach Doug Evans said. "We were talking on the way here that we hadn't played in a while and some teams have already played two games and are in the regional championships. We wanted to kind of get into the war. It was nice to come out and get a win."
Seneca (28-0) rolled out to a 15-5 lead after the first eight minutes with Garrett Callahan netting five points and Robert Rexroade four. Obina Agomo scored all five of the Reapers opening period points.
In the second frame the Irish led 19-7 before Plano went on a 8-0 run, with Brook Bott's trey from the right wing cutting the top seeds lead to six (21-15) at the 4:10 mark. Garrett Callahan and Plano's Will Brown traded put back baskets before the Irish closed out the quarter on a 10-4 run and lead 31-19.
"We started the game out on a bad note; I think four of our first five possessions were turnovers (and 16 in first half), so we were very fortunate to be in the game that late in the first half," said Plano head coach Nate Spriggs. "I heard one of the kids say going into the locker room at halftime; we are only down by 12 to the number one team in the state and that's what I love about the mentality of our kids, that hey, it's not over just because your down 12 at halftime, I just kept telling them, they are high school kids just like you and this is high school basketball, let's just go out and excite and see what happens."
The Irish were starting to really fire on all cylinders coming out of the break as they scored the first seven points of the second half, all off turnovers, to extend the lead to 32-19. Alex Spicer gave Seneca a 20 point lead with 2:10 left in the stanza by scoring on two straight lay ups, the latter off a no-look pass from Garrett Callahan. Seneca out-scored the Reapers 25-8 in the third to take a comfortable 56-27 lead into the fourth.
"Anytime you turn the ball over at the top of the key, they are going to convert because they are so quick and athletic, and they are going to get a wide open lay up," said Spriggs. "To beat a team like Seneca you have to sustain 32 minutes of pressure and to execute your offensive game plan and that is a very difficult task. Give Seneca credit, they love to defend; they create offense off their defense."
Seneca led by as many as 30 in the fourth quarter, before a late run by Plano (12-17) sliced into the final margin.
Senior Garrett Callahan's 18 points, five rebounds and five steals led a balanced Irish attack. Freshman Seth Evans scored 12 points, Rexroade and Griffan Callahan each added 10.
Senior Will Brown paced the Reapers with 15 points and eight rebounds, while fellow senior Alex Jensen and junior Obina Agomo chipped in with 10 points each.
"We had the right game plan, just the execution at times, there were flaws in it," Spriggs said. "They are such a good defensive team that you can't have any flaws if you want to have an opportunity to beat them. Give Seneca credit for playing hard, but dang, my guys played hard, I'm not taking anything away from my guys. (Jensen and Brown) did everything I asked them to do tonight; they represented Plano High School very well."
PLANO (51) -- Jensen 3-9 2-3 10, Nelson 0-4 0-0 0, Bott 2-4 0-0 6, Agomo 3-3 4-6 10, Brown 7-13 1-1 15, Green 3-4 0-0 8, M. Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Diaz 0-0 0-0 0, Kebbeh 1-2 0-0 2, Campisi 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-37 7-10 51.
SENECA (70) -- Hetelle 0-2 1-2 1, Gr. Callahan 3-9 3-4 10, Hobbs 1-5 0-0 2, Ga. Callahan 7-9 2-2 18, Rexroade 4-10 2-3 10, Evans 5-8 1-1 12, T. Smith 1-1 1-1 3, Misener 0-1 0-0 0, Spicer 3-4 0-0 6, Houge 1-1 3-4 5, Andreatta 0-1 0-0 0, Underhill 1-2 0-0 3, Pearson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 13-17 71.
Plano (12-17) 5 14 8 24 - 51
Seneca (28-0) 15 16 25 14 - 70
3-point baskets -- Plano 6-13 (Jensen 2-5, Nelson 0-2, Bott 2-4, Green 2-2); Seneca 5-11 (Hetelle 0-2, Gr. Callahan 1-1, Hobbs 0-1, Ga. Callahan 2-4, Rexroade 0-1, Evans 1-1, Underhill 1-1). Rebounds -- Plano 22 (Agomo 8, Brown 8); Seneca 20 (Ga. Callahan 5). Assists -- Plano 7 (Jensen 3); Seneca 11 (Gr. Callahan 3). Turnovers -- Plano 27, Seneca 14. Total fouls (none fouled out) -- Plano 13, Seneca 8.
SOMONAUK — The age-old adage that it's not how you start but how you finish proved to be true for the Hinckley-Big Rock basketball team Thursday.
The Royals spotted Indian Creek an early lead but used a strong fourth quarter to earn a 59-47 win in the semifinals of the Somonauk Class A Regional.
H-BR (14-13) will face an undefeated Seneca team in tonight's regional championship.
Indian Creek had the energy early, scoring the first four points of the game. Eric Oros, who had seven points and six rebounds in the first quarter, then ignited a 9-2 H-BR run.
The Royals held leads of 16-12 after one quarter and 33-20 at the break, but Nathan Yaggie capped a 12-0 run to pull the Timberwolves within 35-34 in the third quarter.
"It seemed like there was a lid on the bucket for a while," said H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes.
The Royals eventually pulled away in the fourth behind the inside play of Oros (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Matt Koehling (15 points, eight rebounds).
H-BR held IC sophomore Jacob Swanson to 15 points after he torched the Royals for 30 points in the Little Ten Tournament.
Seneca 70, Plano 51 — The state's top ranked Class A team improved to a perfect 28-0 by beating Plano for the third time this season.
After committing turnovers on eight of their first nine possessions, the Reapers (12-17) found themselves down 11-3 six minutes into the game.
"We had the right game plan, but our execution had flaws in it at times," said Plano coach Nate Spriggs. "(Seneca) is such a good defensive team that you can't have any flaws."
Will Brown (15 points, seven rebounds), Obina Agomo (10 points, nine rebounds) and Alex Jensen (10 points, six rebounds) led the Plano attack.
Plano had a total of 28 turnovers.