DANVILLE — In last year’s Vermilion County boys basketball tournament, the Westville Tigers defeated the top-seed Salt Fork Storm 43-34 to claim the program’s 17th County title. With the tournament changing to a pool play format, there will be no chance of a championship rematch.
The second-seeded Storm and third-seeded Tigers will face each other on Thursday at 8 p.m. in the final game of pool play. Westville did, however, begin its title defense on Saturday with a 50-39 win over the Georgetown-Ridge Farm Buffaloes.
“We’re really excited,” Westville senior guard Kyle Brazas said. “Hopefully we can go back-to-back, but we’re just going one game at a time, and we’re just working really hard.
“We know that we lost a couple of players last year that really contributed with Layn (White) and Robert (Elliott), but guys have stepped in for them and are doing a great job.”
It was the second meeting between the Tigers and Buffaloes in four days, and despite playing on a neutral court, the result was the same. On January 14, Westville defeated Georgetown-Ridge Farm 51-42.
“It’s always about Westville’s defense,” Georgetown-Ridge Farm coach Adam Latoz said. “Coach (Jeff) Millis does a great job of teaching it, and they have a lot of ball pressure. That always seems to bother us.
“We were trying to shut down Brazas and (Jeffery) Thompson,” Latoz added. “They killed us last Tuesday along with (Justin) Ottino. We tried to do the same thing; just tried to keep them from catching the ball inside of 15 feet. Once he catches it inside 15 feet, he’s pretty automatic.”
The Tigers’ last loss was to Salt Fork, 53-32, on January 10 in a game in which Brazas was held scoreless. Since then, he has put up a total of 35 points in two games including 15 in Saturday’s win.