Mat Mikesell

Beyond the Boxscore: Gators beat the scouting report, Sussenbach's foul trouble hurts Hornets

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 2, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 3, 2018 3:50 am

ABINGDON, Ill. -- Jared Hoots watched several game films of the Peoria Quest boys basketball team in advance of Friday night's Class 1A Abingdon Sectional title game.

What he saw during the game wasn't what we saw on film.

"You've got (Quest forward Avierre Ross) is hitting 10- and 12-foot jump shots," Hoots said. "I hadn't seen him do anything outside the paint in the film I've watched and it's not in the scouting report.

"That's something you have to tip your cap to."

Hoots had plenty of reason to believe Quest didn't want to shoot jumpers. In Quest's semifinal victory over Payson Seymour Wednesday night, the Gators made 13 straight field goals in the third quarter, and all came within the basket area.

Friday night, Ross, along with guards Terrell Walker and D.Q. Gilbert were knocking down jump shots.

"I told the kids before the game if they're going to beat us, it's going to be from jump shots," Hoots said. "They hit one or two and got some confidence."

Sussenbach's early foul trouble plagues Hornets

Whether he agreed with it or not, Tanner Sussenbach picked up his second foul with 5:18 remaining in the second quarter.

The Hornets' senior forward headed to the bench as Quest led 23-15. Sussenbach sat for the next four minutes and returned with just over a minute remaining in the half.

By then, Quest led by 10 and eventually led by 12 going into halftime. Brown County struggled offensively in the quarter by missing four of six shots and committed three turnovers.

"We might have left him out a little too long," Hoots said. "But you don't know when to roll the dice. I never really thought the game was getting away, but it's hard when you don't have one of your leaders on the floor."

Sussenbach made an immediate impact when he came back in the third quarter. He scored in part of a 13-6 run that got the Hornets back in the game and took a charge, too.

"When you're out for most of a quarter or whatever it was, you just have to have the mentality that you're going to make up for it," Sussenbach said. "I just wanted to help my team come back."

Walker's play draws Hoots' praise

When Brown County cut Quest's lead to four points in the middle of the quarter, Walker had an answer.

He scored five of the Gators' last nine points in the third quarter as Quest pushed the lead back to 48-39 heading to the fourth.

He scored a combined 15 points in the middle quarters and finished with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He also made all seven free throw attempts.

"He's a very, very smooth basketball player," Hoots said. "He's a very patient player and sees the floor really well."

His ability to take over a game makes him a hard guard at the Class 1A level.

"In big games he scores," Hoots said. "He's definitely one of the top players in the state of Illinois in Class 1A. I haven't seen a guard like that with that kind of savvy all season."