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Seton’s Mark Weems Jr. defends against Winnebago’s Jacoby Posley in the Class 2A state semifinals Friday in Peoria. | Ron Johnson~AP
PEORIA — For one quarter, the Class 2A state semifinal between Seton and undefeated Winnebago had all the makings of a thriller.
Suddenly, Seton accelerated to another gear, especially defensively. “The bottom dropped out of us,” Winnebago coach Joe Murphy said.
The Sting shut out the Indians from the floor in the second quarter and blitzed Winnebago with a 19-0 run as Seton won 62-37 at Carver Arena Friday night.
The convincing victory propels the Sting (22-10) to its second state championship appearance overall and first since winning Class 2A in 2009. Seton advances to Saturday night’s 8:15 Class 2A championship game against the Harrisburg/St. Joseph-Ogden winner.
Seton shut out the Indians (32-1) for more than 11 minutes from the field. Winnebago managed only three free throws in the second quarter as Seton’s quickness and length disoriented the normally precise shooting team. “We knew one thing about this tournament is that we have the most length of anybody here,” said 6-8 Seton forward Alex Foster.
Winnebago shot 1-of-15 on three-pointers in the first half and finished 4-for-34 from long range. Seton held the Indians to 22 percent shooting (15-for-68) overall from the field.
“We told the kids that Winnebago shot more than 30 three-pointers in their supersectional, and I felt in order for them to stay close, they had to hit 8-10,” Seton coach Brandon Thomas said. “We knew who their scorers were, and we wanted to account for them at all times, and to be there on the catch.”
Kamal Shasi broke the game’s final tie by converting two free throws for a 15-13 Seton lead. Johnny Patterson, a 6-8 reserve center who had eight of his 12 points in the second quarter, scored on a tip in, starting the onslaught.
“I just wanted to run them off the floor,” Patterson said. “I felt very comfortable out there and I was able to go out there and find my spaces on the floor.”
Senior guard Mark Weems Jr. scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the second quarter. His three-pointer from the left wing punctuated the second-quarter dominance, pushing the Sting to a 37-16 lead at the break. “It was a lot of fun out there,” Weems Jr. said.
Armahn Mooring hit two three-pointers in the first quarter and hit all four of his shots from the field in contributing 11 points for the Sting. “I’m a good shooter,” he said. “The coaches have a lot of confidence in me, and I had the ball in good places.”
The Sting scored just four points in the first seven minutes of the third period, but still led 43-24 entering the fourth after Foster’s dunk.
Winnebago guard Matt Reinke scored 15 points on 6-of-22 shooting. Jacoby Posley added 12 points.