Jerey's Blake Whittman shoots over Cahokia's Shamon Hudson in the final game of the Jerseyville Mid-Winter Tournament.

What did Jersey Panthers basketball coach Stote Reeder want to get out of the Jerseyville Mid-Winter Tournament?

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“Momentum.”

His wish came true as his ball club defeated Quincy Notre Dame 61-57 last night and the Cahokia Comanches last night 41-35. The Panthers improve to 11-9 on the season.

“We won our lost two and got a two-game winning streak with a nine-day break,” Reeder said. “It feels great to get those two wins.”

Blake Whittman and Kurt Hall each tallied 12 points to lead all scorers. Coby Gibson and Tucker Shalley scored five points each.
Whittman was named to the all-tournament team but was quick to push the individual label aside.

“I really wouldn’t have been able to do it without any my teammates. It’s more of a team award than individual,” Whittman said. “It feels good.”

Cahokia was led by Elijah Rice’s 11 points alongside Kent Quilling’s nine points, which were all triples, and Richard Robinson’s eight.

The score was 5-4 after the first quarter 15-11 in favor of Jersey at halftime. With both teams having trouble knocking down shots outside and inside, the Panthers made some halftime adjustments, and that was to be faster in transition.

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“At halftime, we noticed that [Cahokia] wasn’t getting back. I’ve played Cahokia 11 times in my career here, and I’ve never at halftime said we gotta get out and go,” Reeder said laughing. “They weren’t getting back, and we thought we could take advantage of it. When we needed good motion, we got it. That’s what hurts their defense because they’re so aggressive.”

The points started to come, and so did the outside shooting. Whittman, Hall, and Shalley each drained a three-pointer to help expand the Panthers lead to 28-18.

“We knew we needed to get some big shots towards the end of the game and kinda try and pull away from them a little bit,” Whittman said. “We just tried to step up and make shots. We were getting everybody to take care of the ball.”

Cahokia would make a comeback and turned up their pressure.
Robinson opened the fourth quarter with an alley-oop dunk that energized the Comanches. After getting a couple of steals and getting to the free throw line, the Comanches would eventually cut the Panthers lead to 31-29. However, Jersey would take care of business at the charity stripe as well.

The Panthers made 11-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter, including five out of six by Whittman that sealed the game.

“We struggled to close it out, but we closed it out,” Reeder said. [Cahokia] cranked it up, but so did we. We made it hard for them to score also.”

The Panthers started out the tournament losing to Highland 58-45 and Collinsville 46-42. To close out the tournament with two straight victories makes life a bit easier for Jersey going forward.

“We’ve lost so many close games this year and to win two close games in a row against two good teams the kids are feeling good about that.”

Brett Tuttle (11) guards Elijah Rice (3).

Lucas Ross (13) and Richard Robinson go up for a rebound.

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