Caden Hayen towers over to make a basket at the MELHS Thanksgiving Turkey Tip-Off Tournament.

Stormmy Coffman pushes by Caden Hayen.

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EDWARDSVILLE – With the Metro-East Lutheran High School Thanksgiving Turkey Tip-Off officially underway, boys’ basketball teams from around the region were ready to square off against one another to start the season.

Shortly after the start of the Odin-Gibault matchup in the auxiliary gym, the Southwestern High School Piasa Birds hit the court in the main gym to battle the Bunker Hill High School Minutemen. Ultimately, the Birds overcame the Minutemen and grasped their first tournament victory with a score of 47-37.

“Those kids [from Bunker Hill] were very good last year. They are very skilled players and they can all shoot,” Southwestern Coach Jason Darr said, “We knew this was going to be a battle. We’re glad that we got to play a competitive team and that we got to battle back. It ended up working out in our favor.”

Collin Baumgartner led Southwestern with 20 points, contributing 18 points from inside the arc and landing two of three free throw attempts. Justin Bailey locked in 9 points from outside the three-point line and made three of four of his free throw opportunities. Dylan Green shot two successful three-pointers. Caden Hayen landed one three-point shot and was 2 for 2 in free throws. Both Ben Lowis and Ben Gallaher brought in two points each.

Greene and Caleb Robinson led the Birds with fouls at three each while Bailey, Heyen and Baumgartner each had two. Gallaher fouled once.

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Austin Yates and Ben Lowis meet eye-to-eye. Bunker Hill held command over the Piasa Birds in the first half, maintain a 7-point lead over Southwestern, bringing the score to 25-18 before the long break.

When the teams returned to the court, the Piasa Birds made a push toward the basket with eight points added for the quarter, narrowing Bunker Hill’s lead from 7 to five points. Bunker Hill was only able to add six points to the board quarter courtesy of one two-point bucket, a three-pointer and a free throw. The score was brought to 31-26 at the end of the third.

Southwestern pushed past the Bunker Hill defense to score three separate three-pointers, three two-point buckets and landed six points by free throws. This push resulted in 21 added points for the Birds while the Minutemen could only contribute six points for the entire quarter. At the final buzzer, the Birds defeated the Minutemen 47-37.

“I would say that we got the best of ourselves,” Bunker Hill coach Jay Goltz said, “Instead of trying to keep playing like we were supposed to be doing, keep playing our offense, we got out of what we were doing to get the lead in the half. We did not rebound and that’s one of the things we have to work on this year.”

Austin Yates led the Minutemen with 11 points with one two-point and three successful shots from outside the arc. Christian Summers locked in 9 from three baskets and three free throws. Dane Sellars earned 6 from the outside while Sean Yates and Chase Williams each locked in 5 points each.

Williams and Sean Yates each had four fouls. Sellars had two while Austin Yates and Stormmy Coffman each had one.

Collin Baumgartner blocks Christian Summers.

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