Night of Hoops has a new name an incredibly fitting, appropriate and well-deserved one at that but the same daunting assignment that the home team has faced for the past 20 years.
From Simeon to King to Proviso East to any of the states premier programs you can name, Batavia is going to take its shot at the best. DeLaSalle presented the matchup problem in the 2013 version, the Islanders tremendous mix of quickness, height and shooting proving too much for Batavia in their 59-47 loss at the 20th annual Jim and Sylvia Roberts Night of Hoops.
After a long standing ovation for the retired coach Roberts and his wife and some heartfelt words from former athletic director Mike Gaspari, Batavia (9-12) came out strong against DeLaSalle (14-6).
Micah Coffey and Jake Pollack both connected from 3 for a 6-2 lead, and Mike Rueffer fed Coffey again minutes later for another 3 and an 11-7 lead. Batavia went on to hit eight 3s.
Junior Tucker Knox, who scored 6 points off the bench, made two free throws to close the first-quarter scoring with Batavia ahead 13-12, and the Bulldogs also caught a break when Minnesota-bound Alvin Ellis (10 points) missed much of the first half with 2 fouls.
DeLaSalle proved to have plenty of other weapons including an imposing front line of 6-foot-5 sophomore Brandon Hutton who had 16 points and 8 rebounds, and 6-7 Justin Earls with 8 points and 11 boards. Batavia was outrebounded 43-31.
The Islanders opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run before Batavia finally scored on Zach Strittmatters 3 over five minutes into the quarter.
Give them credit, they capitalized on opportunities, but we didnt get back on D, we got beat backdoor, that was my fault, Rueffer said. Offensive rebounds, all the little stuff, we didnt finish possessions.
Trailing 27-21 at halftime, the game quickly got away from Batavia in the third. DeLaSalle went on a 16-2 run using some midrange jumpers from its big men, second-chance points and a few transition scores from guards like Marcus White (11 points). Batavia trailed at that point 43-23.
They are a great team, Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. We welcome the challenge of playing a team like that. They do a lot of things well. They are not just Ellis. Were a team trying to get to that level. They spurted in the third quarter and it was hard to come back from that. The first possessions didnt go well and it kind of snowballed.
DeLaSalle led 47-31 after three quarters, and the closest the Bulldogs came from there was the final score on a long jumper by Nathan Tague.
We played Providence last night and it was a little more football than basketball, DeLaSalle coach Tom White said. We came here and it took us a little to get our motors going. Our big guys were really aggressive to the basket, and they are good kids too.
Coffey led Batavia with 11 points and Strittmatter added 10. Those two along with Pollack and Rueffer all started for the coach who was honored before the game, the coach who made Night of Hoops what it is.
It was great, Rueffer said. It was definitely something I felt we should have done for him sometime this season. It was definitely something that brought back memories for me. I havent seen him in that gym since the last game we played at home last year. It was definitely something special. Coach Roberts brought in some of the best competition in the state and gave Batavia the reputation it has.
Follow John Lemon on Twitter@jlemonDH