||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Orr's Armani Ousley (2) stops short with Limestone's Hank Mathews (10) close behind during the state basketball third place game. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
PEORIA — Orr made its debut trip to Peoria with something to prove.
“We came down here knowing we were the best team here, but we didn’t show it,” Orr’s 6-8 junior forward Marlon Jones said.
The lingering disappointment of failing to reach the title game seemed to unmake the Spartans.
Limestone made it a very bittersweet final weekend as the Rockets used a game-changing 18-3 run in the first half that wiped out Orr’s early eight-point lead and powered their 58-49 victory in the Class 3A third-place game Satuday at Carver Arena.
“This was a tough weekend for us,” Orr coach Louis Adams said. “We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game Downstate.”
Orr (28-5) appeared to throw off the disappointment of its semifinal loss to Cahokia by demonstrating early ball movement and excellent energy as they bolted out to a 12-4 lead. Gradually, the Spartans’ game went off the rail. They could never truly recover.
Hank Matthews, the son of Rockets’ coach Eddie Matthews, nailed four three-pointers in scoring 19 points in leading Limestone (25-10). He hit three three-pointers in the first half, the first igniting the 18-3 run. By the time Limestone’s flourish was over, the Rockets held a 22-15 lead en route to a 30-20 advantage at the break.
Orr’s difficulties were mostly self-inflicted. The Spartans missed 7 of 8 free-throw attempts in the second quarter. Lou Adams Jr. drilled a three-pointer at the start of the game, and it proved the only one the team would make. Orr missed 21 of 22 attempts on three-point shots.
“You’d think so,” Adams said of the team’s high-volume shooting from the beyond the arc, believing at least a couple would fall.
They never did. By contrast, Orr shot 50 percent (19-for-38) on two-point attempts. It missed scoring opportunities at the free-throw line, where it missed 15 of 23 attempts and the cold perimeter shooting doomed the team. Orr generated 21 more shot attempts than the Rockets and held decisive advantages in points off turnovers and fast break points.
It was all for naught. “We started slacking off on defense and then our shots stopped falling,” Adams Jr. said.
Senior point guard Jamal McDowell sparked the Spartans’ third-quarter rally. He scored eight straight points for the Spartans as they pulled within four points to start the fourth quarter. “He’s the engine that our train runs on, and he’s been tremendous for us for four years,” Louis Adams said of McDowell.
In his final game, McDowell scored 13 points and contributed six rebounds and two assists.
Matthews’ final three-point basket at the start of the fourth quarter returned the lead to seven points. Orr played hard and competed until they end. Jones posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Spartans.
“This was a junior dominated team, and we have some new players coming in and other players coming back, so our future is very bright,” Adams said. “We took a big step forward with this team.”
That was enough to make up for the pain of ending the year with back-to-back losses. “We still made history,” senior guard Brandon Clemons said.