MACON — Both the Marquette Knights and Ransom-St. Michael Pirates eighth-grade boys basketball teams competed Saturday in the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) Class 8-1A State Tournament contested at downstate Macon Meridian High School, with Marquette's 8s earning their way to this Thursday's third-place game.
Marquette (19-4) opened Saturday afternoon with a 41-28 quarterfinal victory over Stewardson-Strasburg, overcoming an early deficit by outscoring its opponents 21-6 in the game's middle quarters. Tom Durdan (12 points), Logan Nelson (nine points on three 3-pointers), and both Gabe Almeda and Taylor Waldron (eight points apiece) paced Marquette.
Marquette then took on A-C Central in the semifinals, leading after one quarter and rallying late, but falling 43-38. Durdan scored 13 points, Waldron 12 and Nelson nine for the Knights, whose roster also includes Alex Graham, Primo Pattelli, Luke Cooper, Jurnee Reed, Caden Eller and Aidan Thompson.
Marquette will play Springfield Little Flower (23-6) in Thursday's third-place game at 6 p.m. back in Macon.
Ransom-St. Michael's eighth-grade cagers (20-3) opened Saturday morning against Peoria Hollis in the quarterfinals, falling behind early and trailing throughout a 35-22 defeat. Wyatt Thompson scored all but five of the Pirates' points, finishing with 17. Jayden Nambo added three points.
The R-SM roster also included David Bergeson, Toby Wheeler, Austin Taylor, Zach Schultz, Landon Muntz, Cooper Spears, Nick Yanek, Denver Trainor and Keaton Yedinak.
Peoria Hollis and A-C Central will play for the IESA title Thursday after the third-place game.