The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

February 15, 2012

Devils clinch VVC crown

BISMARCK — When the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils listed their goals at the beginning of the season, they realized that if they took care of business the way they knew how, everything else would fall in line.

They won this year’s Vermilion County Tournament seemingly with ease defeating each opponent by 14 points or more for an average of over 31 points per contest. On Tuesday, the Blue Devils reached their second goal of clinching the Vermilion Valley Conference title. And they did so in dominating fashion with a 50-27 win over the Salt Fork Storm on Senior Night.

While winning the County Tournament championship was a welcomed accomplishment, winning this year’s VVC is a goal that has been long overdue.

“It’s great because we’ve been trying for four years,” senior guard Tanner Ribbe said. “We’ve been practicing hard every day just trying to get this. I’m glad we got it. It took us long enough — four years — but we put our minds to it and we got it.

“I think four years together really does something for a team,” he continued. “It’s just team chemistry, and we’ve really got it right now. We’re all seniors, we all know what we’re doing. It just helps when you’re playing that way.”

The win was just another in a string of victories marking a 14-game winning streak, and was the team’s 15th win of 20 points or more this season. The contest was never in question as the Class 2A, seventh-ranked Blue Devils started the game on a 9-0 run before outscoring the Storm 12-2 in the second quarter.

Bismarck-Henning sophomore Chase Connelly scored nine of his 15 points in the first half before senior Krystian Ingram took over the third. Ingram — who finished with 15 points, six assists, four steals and two blocks — was a perfect 4 of 4 in the period including back-to-back three-pointers that gave Bismarck-Henning a 36-15 lead.

Senior Stephen Krout also scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and had three blocks, while Ribbe scored nine, had seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

“You want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year, and I think we are,” Bismarck-Henning coach Deon Mennenga said. “I think everything is clicking right now. Everyone is doing their part. That’s all we can ask. We play hard, we work hard in practice. If we do that, results will be, more times than not, pretty good.”

Though the Storm (18-8, 9-3) have been playing with relative consistency, the loss was their second in the last four games. The previous was an overtime loss to Oakwood.

Salt Fork coach Aaron Hird knew early on that overcoming a deficit against Bismarck-Henning might be troublesome.

“I think that’s a tough team to get down against,” Hird said. “We actually said that as the jump ball was going up. I looked over to Lou (Hinkle) and said, ‘I don’t think we want to get down.’ I think this is a tough team to come back against.”

The Storm went on brief scoring sprees but never found consistency committing 19 turnovers and finding scoring from only four players. Max Stutsman led the Storm with nine points and eight rebounds, Alec Dutton scored eight and had five boards, Cole Taylor finished with seven points and five rebounds, and Noah Darr came off the bench to drain a three with just over one minute remaining.

Salt Fork finishes the regular season on Friday at Westvile before also facing Westville in its first regional game on February 21.

Bismarck-Henning will take its 14-game winning streak to Armstrong-Potomac on Friday to face the Trojans with the confidence of being VVC champs, and the top seed in the upcoming Westville Regional.

“We’re fully confident, but we’re not being cocky about it,” Ingram said. “We’re not overconfident. We’re just playing our game.

“We’ve been waiting for this all year. I hope we can keep this going.”

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Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

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