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Seton's Christopher Seaton lays up a shot on a breakaway against Harrisburg. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
PEORIA — Seton’s state tournament run has been a model of toughness, aggression and grace under pressure.
But the team’s quest for a second state basketball championship in five years took a shocking turn when star senior guard Mark Weems Jr. was ejected with 2:05 to play in the second quarter after making contact with an official while objecting to a technical foul called against him moments earlier.
Seton lost its emotional and team leader and rejuvenated Harrisburg rode the momentum-changing sequence to the 50-44 victory over Seton in the Class 2A state championship game at Carver Arena Saturday night.
Seton’s coaches and players accepted their second-place medallions. They left the court without accepting the second-place trophy. Seton coach Brandon Thomas refused to talk with the media.
The Associated Press reported police escorts were given to the teams as players headed to their buses after a verbal exchange between a fan and Thomas.
After the game, the IHSA released a statement saying the organization “is disappointed with and embarrassed by the actions of both Harrisburg High School and South Holland (Seton Academy).”
The statement said IHSA officials were “reviewing the events associated with [Saturday’s] contest” and would contact the schools on Monday.
“The lessons on display tonight were that respect and sportsmanship are not important, and that is simply not acceptable,” IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in the statement.
Harrisburg’s Tyler Smithpeters scored a game-high 23 points to power the Bulldogs (33-1). Capel Henshaw scored 13 points.
“I was just trying to do whatever I could to help us win a state championship,” Smithpeters said.
Kamal Shasi scored nine points to lead the Sting (22-11). He shot just 3-for-14 from the floor. Seton shot just 8-for-24 in the second half as Harrisburg rallied from the 24-23 halftime deficit.
Following Weems’ ejection, Harrisburg closed the half with an 8-1 run. The other number that illustrated the Sting’s difficulties was 6-of-17. That was what the Sting shot at the free-throw line. By contrast, Harrisburg shot 24-of-31 at the free-throw line.
Weems Jr. scored eight points as Seton built a 23-13 advantage midway through the second quarter. Sashi drilled two three-pointers to support the early burst.
Seton appeared to regain its composure at the start of the third quarter behind tough inside baskets by senior forwards Alex Foster and Johnny Patterson. Patterson’s basket pushed the lead to 30-25.
Smith’s three-pointer from the right wing provided the Sting’s final lead at 33-30 midway through the third quarter. Ryan Roper responded with a three-pointer that ignited an 11-3 Harrisburg run.
Seton made one final run as Armahn Mooring converted two free throws and Christopher Seaton scored on a layup off to pull the Sting within 47-44 with just over a minute to play. But Harrisburg converted three free throws in the final moments to seal the first state title in the school’s history.
Foster and Patterson each had seven points for the Sting.