After a disappointing week at the Spring Valley Hall Tournament, the Plano boys basketball team wasted no time getting into a groove on Tuesday.
The Reapers (7-2) staked an early edge against visiting Somonauk and turned a 30-point halftime lead into an 80-51 victory in the non-conference game.
"Coming off the Hall tournament where we didn't play particularly well, it was nice to see us get back on the court and get back to playing the way we can play," Plano coach Kyle Kee said. "We had a good first half; we had a lot of energy."
Plano pushed the pace especially in the final two minutes of the first half, with a basket from Nate Shead (15 points), a 3-pointer from Will Benson and a Elijah Maisonet (19 points) capping a 27-point second period.
Shead hit another one from beyond the arc in the early minutes of the third quarter – his third of the game – to give Plano a 58-21 lead.
"Down at Hall, we weren't getting much from anyone else and he bailed us out," Kee said of Shead. "He's been playing great all year and I think he's the best shooter around. When he's not open, he can get open."
Keegan Shettles came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer for Plano, and Anthony Martinez converted three-point play at the foul line after a successful putback for a 68-30 score. Kee rotated players into the mix throughout the fourth quarter, and both Michael Baltazar and Israel Adeoti knocked down 3-pointers to give Plano a 76-36 lead with six minutes still to play.
"We feel like we've got a deep team. It's a good problem to have and we try and get as many guys out there as we can," Kee said. "It allows us to give Nate and Brandon some breaks. When we can get Keegan off the bench with the way he's been shooting lately, that's great, Ethan hitting threes – on nights like this, we look like a really deep team."
Before shifting its focus to the upcoming Plano Christmas Classic, first the Reapers must handle a road trip to Lisle on Thursday for a key Interstate Eight Conference game.
"We've got to be ready for Lisle. They're a good team, and playing at their place, it's going to be loud," Kee said. "We just want to keep getting better. That's our mentality. Last week was a good wakeup call for us. If we don't do things right and we don't play hard, we can get beat by anybody."
Plano earned the No. 3 seed in the 24-team field and will open play on its home court Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. against the winner of Monday's first-round game between Forreston and No. 14 Peoria Notre Dame. Burlington Central was awarded the top seed, followed by Northridge Prep and Newark closed out the top four. Tournament play runs through Dec. 30.
"Being the three seed, it's nice. I don't remember us being that high as far back as I can remember," Kee said. "It's exciting and it's fun, but we know that we have Peoria Notre Dame and Forreston sitting there, and they're not going to say "Oh, you're the three seed. Go right ahead.' We're trying to keep an even keel and just try and get better."
Plano 59, Marquette 58 (OT): The Reapers closed out the Hall Tournament with an overtime win to finish 2-2 in tournament play. Marquette outscored Plano 18-9 in the fourth quarter to force the bonus period after Plano led 32-22 at halftime. Nate Shead hit four 3-pointers and led all scorers with 23 points with six rebounds. Brandon Contreras had 14 points while Keegan Shettles knocked in nine.
Rock Falls 64, Plano 51: Despite a 20-point third quarter, the Reapers could not not catch up after trailing Rock Falls 23-18 at halftime. Shead had 17 points to lead the Reapers.