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Bruins uphold holiday tradition at Marseilles

St. Bede’s Damin Smith (12) grabs a rebound against Kewanee in the Marseilles Holiday Tournament championship game Saturday night.
St. Bede’s Damin Smith (12) grabs a rebound against Kewanee in the Marseilles Holiday Tournament championship game Saturday night.

MARSEILLES — In the first three years of the Marseilles Holiday Tournament, a No. 1 seed had yet to claim the title. St. Bede made sure that trend continued Saturday night.

The second-seeded Bruins — led by the triple threat of Brad Groleau, Joe Pyszka and Damin Smith — defeated top-seeded Kewanee 76-63 to win the fourth edition of the Marseilles tourney.

Not only did the win give St. Bede the Marseilles hardware, it completed a sweep of both sides of Kewanee this season. The Bruins beat Wethersfield 84-83 just 11 days prior to knocking off the Boilers.

“They both have good teams,” said St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin of the Boilers and Geese.

The Boilers jumped out early in the championship game, using a pair of Dayton Ince treys to build a 12-4 lead. St. Bede scored the last six points of the quarter to trim the deficit to 16-14.

Kewanee stretched the lead to 23-17 on a hoop by tournament MVP Donovan Oliver, but the Bruins battled back behind big 6-7 center Joe Pyszka. He scored consecutive buckets to put the Bruins on top 31-29 — their first lead since the game’s opening basket — and Ethan Duttlinger added a spark as St. Bede closed the quarter with an 18-9 run to lead 38-34 at the half.

Duttlinger scored all nine of his points in the second quarter, and Pyszka had six in the frame.

“It was just a matter of time that we were going to find him with a smaller guy guarding him,” said Kilmartin of Pyszka. “You can’t guard him all night like that.”

Pyszka picked up his third foul late in the second quarter, so St. Bede turned to the long-range shooting of Groleau in the third quarter. He drilled three 3-pointers in the frame to lead the Bruins to their biggest lead of the night, 52-40.

“We really worked hard on trying to double down and take the big kid away,” said Kewanee coach Steve Salisbury. “We had a little success, but then our closeouts were a little slow and they hit a couple of big threes.”

Kewanee closed the quarter with hoops from Oliver and Jared Nimrick to trim the deficit to 52-44 going into the final eight minutes.

Groleau and Pyszka combined for St. Bede’s first 13 points of the fourth quarter as the Bruins pushed the lead to 63-50 with just over four minutes to play.

Ince knocked down five straight free throws and Dalton Nuding converted a three-point play to pull the Boilers within 65-59 with 2:06 remaining, but the Bruins hit 7 of 10 free throws down the stretch to halt the Kewanee rally.

“We had to work so hard to get back in the game,” said Salisbury. “We had some opportunities at the line, but we missed nine free throws.”

Groleau led the Bruins (12-3) with 21 points, followed by Smith with 17 and Pyszka with 16. Oliver topped the Boilers (10-3) with 22 points, while Ince added 20.

“We knew it would be a game of runs,” said Salisbury. “We talked before the game about how they were going to answer our runs and that we had to answer their runs. We answered them all except the one where they really extended it out.”

• Putnam County beat Lexington 48-46 for third place while LaMoille/Ohio beat Gardner-South Wilmington 59-50 for 15th place.

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