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Streator holds off Wilmington for 1,500th win in program history – Shaw Local

STREATOR – In and of itself, Streator’s regular-season finale with visiting Wilmington didn’t have the big-game feel the Bulldogs were hoping for with the Illinois Central Eight Conference title already safely tucked away in Manteno.

It was a big one Tuesday for the Bulldogs, however, the team having lost four of its previous seven – including to the same Wilmington team on the road last week – and trying to build a little momentum on their home floor before hosting a Class 3A regional next week.

Oh, and trying to record the 1,500th victory in Streator basketball history too.

The Bulldogs came up big down the stretch to get that win, build that momentum and avenge last week’s defeat, besting Wilmington 51-49. Streator was led by 20 points from senior point guard Christian Benning, six fourth-quarter points from Logan Aukland and a combined 12 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots from big men Nolan Lukach (eight points, six rebounds) and Quinn Baker (four points, seven rebounds, five blocks). Streator also received clutch point-of-the-press defense when it mattered most from juniors Isaiah Weibel and Matt Williamson.

“This was like a pride game,” said Williamson, who added five points and a pair of steals, with Weibel recording one point and three steals. “Wilmington is tough. They were tough on Wednesday when we played them, and conference games aren’t easy, especially the second half of the season.

“This was just a gut check. We had to win for ourselves.”

Matt Williamson

Streator (23-8, 11-3 ICE) finished second in the Illinois Central Eight and heads into the Class 3A Streator Regional, where it will open against Pontiac (19-10) at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21.

Wilmington (18-8, 7-7) hosted Westmont on Wednesday before heading into the Class 2A Manteno Regional next week. The ’Cats came close to a season sweep of the Bulldogs, tying Tuesday’s contest at 36 on a Reid Juster bucket early in the fourth quarter but never managing to retake the advantage it held most of the first half.

“I told the guys in the locker room tonight, after the high of beating [Streator] last week, it would have been easy to let this one get away, come in here in a tough environment and get blown out,” Wildcats coach Doug Krop said. “Our mindset was to come in here with the same energy and the same mindset [as last week]and I’m glad we were able to grow, even though we didn’t win.”

The Wildcats led almost the entire first half, but went into the locker room trailing 24-22 thanks to a Williamson corner 3 at the buzzer off a drive-and-dish Cade Peterson assist.

Streator maintained a slight advantage the majority of the second half, never pulling away but getting just enough free throws (6 of 11 in the fourth quarter, 9 of 19 for the game) and just enough stops (most notably a Weibel poke steal with the Bulldogs up 48-45 with about 30 seconds remaining) to hold off Wilmington and record program win No. 1,500.

“We missed enough free throws to keep them around,” Streator coach Beau Doty said, “but we made enough to still be up two there at the end. Proud of our effort, proud of our fight in a grind-it-out game.

“It’s going to be really cool to celebrate the history and honor the program [for 1,500 wins during a home game next season]. I’m not sure where that ranks, but I know there aren’t that many programs in the state that have achieved that number, 1,500. It’s a storied basketball program here … and we feel fortunate and blessed to be the team that got to that milestone.”

Wilmington received a balanced scoring effort from its five starters, each of them finishing with either 11 or eight points. Juster (seven rebounds), Ryan Kettman (three steals) and Kyle Farrell (four assists) scored 11 apiece, with Ryan Nelson and Lucas Rink each adding eight for the Wildcats, who outshot Streator from the field 47%-42% but narrowly lost the rebounding (23-19) and turnovers forced (12-9) battles.

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