59th Annual CIT ends with great day of basketball action

Perryville, Lovejoy, Saxony and Gibault win close contests on “Championship Day”

BY JIM BEERS Contributing Writer

CHESTER – The 2023 Chester Invitational Tournament (CIT) wrapped up Saturday January 14 on what was titled, “Championship Day”. The entire tournament included a total of 12 games in five days, two on each day of Round 1, Monday and Tuesday January 9 and 10; two on each day of Round 2, Wednesday and Thursday January 11 and 12; and four on “Championship Day” Saturday January 14.

Each team was guaranteed three games throughout the event, one in Round 1, one in Round 2 and a final game on “Championship Day.

On Championship Day Game No. 9 took place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday January 14 and pitted the two teams that had records of 0-2 in Rounds 1 & 2.  Valmeyer and Perryville battled in that game with Perryville coming out on top beating Valmeyer by just five points, 67-62, to claim the 7th Place position with a record of 1-2. There was no trophy for 7th Place. Valmeyer landed in 8th Place with a record of 0-3.

The Consolation Championship contest took place at 4:00 p.m. Saturday January 14 and featured the two teams that had records of 1-1 on the Consolationship side of the bracket.

 Lovejoy, who lost in Round 1 to Saxony by just five points, 69-64, and won in Round 2 over Valmeyer, 78-47, faced Valle, who lost to New Athens in Round 1, by 10 points, 65-55, and won in Round 2 over Perryville, 74-64. In Game No. 10, Lovejoy battled Valle, 61-54, to claim the Consolation Championship title and trophy.

Game No. 11 was the battle for 3rd Place and took place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday January 14. This Game featured Saxony and New Athens. Both teams had records of 1-1, on the Championship side of the bracket. Saxony won in Round 1 over Lovejoy, 69-54, and lost to Gibault in Round 2, 50-41. New Athens won in Round 1 over Valle, 65-55, and lost in Round 2 to Chester, 52-46.

In the 3rd Place game, Saxony and New Athens fought to a 1-point finish with Saxony winning, 48-47, over New Athens.

The nightcap Saturday January 14 featured Chester and Gibault in a battle to decide the champion of the 2023 CIT. In Game No. 12, Chester, who beat Perryville, 63-33 in Round 1 and New Athens, 52-46 in Round 2, faced Gibault who won over Valmeyer, 73-56 in Round 1 and prevailed over Saxony, 50-41, in Round 2. Both teams came into the “Championship Title Game” with undefeated records of 2-0.

The Championship game was a hard-fought battle with both teams fighting literally till the final 14.4-seconds for the win. With Gibault up by 2 points, 41-39, and 14.4-seconds left to play, Chester had the ball but failed to get the job done and Gibault won by 2-points, 41-39.  The Hawks claimed the Championship title and 1st Place trophy. Chester was runner-up in 2nd Place and received the 2nd Place trophy.

The Championship Day games featured Game 9 that was decided by just five points, Game 10 decided by seven points, Game 11 decided by one point and Game 12 decided by two points.  For the four-game final day there were a total of 419 points scored with the four games decided by just 5, 7, 1, and 2 points for a total of 15 points. That made for a very competitive, exciting, dramatic day of basketball with any one of the four games up for grabs in the 4th Quarters.

Game 9: “7th Place”; Perryville 67-Valmeyer 62…the contest of PIRATES!

The 7th Place game was close and exciting with Perryville leading by five, 23-18, after one quarter; by just six, 34-28 at halftime; by seven, 56-49, after three quarters; and by five, 67-62, at the final buzzer. The Perryville Pirates managed to stay just far enough ahead of the Valmeyer Pirates to keep them at bay throughout the game.

In the win, Perryville was led by three players who scored in double figures including Ethan Blythe (30), and both Jake Cissell and Andrew Terbrak with 11 apiece. Blythe was the real work horse. Perryville lived at the free throw line, making 24-of-40 free shots (60%).

Valmeyer was led by Harrison Miller who scored a tournament-high 39 points. Elijah Miller added 10 points to help round out the Pirate scoring. In a game that was filled with fouls. Valmeyer went to the line 28 times making 20 free throws (71%).

With the win, Perryville earned the 7th Place title. There was no trophy presented for 7th Place.  Valmeyer earned the 8th Place spot.

Game 10: “Consolation Championship”; Lovejoy 61-Valle 54

The Consolation Championship game was close and exciting.  Both Lovejoy and Valle exchanged leads and fought hard throughout the 32-minute contest, but one team prevailed at the end of regulation.

Valle led the first quarter, 19-14 to lead by four points. The second quarter Lovejoy outscored Valle, 16-15, but trailed by four points, 34-30 at the half. The game was very close and dramatic at that point with Valle in the lead.

The 3rd Quarter proved to be a huge, deciding factor in the game as the Wildcats blasted the Warriors, 20-8 in that frame and took an 8-point, 50-42 lead going into the final period. Down the stretch, both teams performed well, and Valle outscored Lovejoy, 12-11, however, Lovejoy’s previous lead allowed to them to enjoy a final 61-54, seven-point victory.

In the win, Lovejoy had three players score in significant double figures.  Pierre Lucas scored 22 points.  Michael McCallum added 15 points and Shantez Holliday contributed 15 points. The Wildcats hit (20) 2-pointers and (5) 3-pointers. From the free throw line they shot 6-of-14 free throws (43%).

Valle Catholic was led by two players including Chase Fallert who had 17 points and Harry Oliver with 14 points. The Warriors made (16) 2-pointers, three 3-pointers, and 10-of-14 free throws (71%).

The Lovejoy Wildcats finished in 5th Place and earned the title of Consolation Champions. They also and received the corresponding trophy. Valle finished in 6th Place.

Game 11: “3rd Place”; Saxony 48-New Athens 47

This game was a “knock-down-drag-out” affair that was decided by just one point. After the first quarter, the Saxony Crusaders led by four points, 15-11, behind the shooting of John Hartman (5) and Luke Eggemeyer (5).

In the second quarter Saxony and New Athens played evenly with the Crusaders outscoring the YellowJackets by just one point, 14-13, to lead by only five points, 29-24 at halftime.

            In the second half the Jackets outscored the Crusaders in both quarters, but the increase in scoring was not quite enough to catch up with Saxony’s early 5-point lead. 

New Athens outscored the Crusaders, 11-9 in the third quarter to trail by only three points, 38-35, and they repeated in the fourth quarter outscoring Saxony, 12-10, to get within one point, 48-47, as the buzzer sounded. The Crusaders escaped with a 1-point win.

In the win, Saxony’s Eggemeyer led with 17 points and Hartman scored 12 points.  The Crusaders hit (15) 2-pointers and (3) 3-pointers. From the free throw line, they sank 7-of-11 free shots (64%).

New Athens was led by Gannon Birkner (18) and Isaiah Lintkner (13).  The Jackets made (15) 2-pointers and (4) 3-pointers. From the free throw line they were 5-of-8 (62%).

The win gave the Saxony Crusaders the 3rd Place trophy. The New Athens YellowJackets finished in 4th Place.

Game 12: “Championship”; Gibault 41-Chester 39

The last game of the 12-game tournament took place at 7:00 p.m. and featured the Chester YellowJackets and the Waterloo Gibault Catholic Hawks. The game was close throughout the entire 32 minutes.

Chester led by five points at the end of the first quarter, 12-7. In the second quarter, Gibault outscored the Jackets, 15-13, to get within three points, 25-22 at the halfway mark.

After halftime, the Hawks enjoyed a slim margin the rest of the contest. The third quarter produced a 12-9 Gibault advantage in additional scoring to tie the game, 34-34, after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was a defensive battle with both teams going rather cold from the field. The Jackets just scored two field goals, both 2-pointers from Kolton Jany and Gavin Schroeder.  Davante Palacio added one point on a free throw, but he missed another free throw. Chester scored a total of just five points down the stretch.

Gibault added seven points in the 4th quarter, four from Gavin Kesler on a 2-pointer and a pair of free throws, and three from a Kameron Hanvey trey. The Hawks had a slim, 2-point advantage with 14.4 seconds remaining in the game.

Chester had the ball with an opportunity to either tie or win the game with 14.4 seconds left to play, but was unable to get a good shot off to accomplish the goal.  At the buzzer, Gibault led, 41-39, to win the 2023 CIT Championship.

In the post-game award ceremony, Chester was presented with the runner-up trophy for 2nd Place. Waterloo Gibault Catholic received the Championship 1st Place trophy.

The 2023 Chester Invitational Tournament Cheer Competition winner was also announced at that time and the Chester High School Cheerleaders were the winners of that competition.

Finally, the 2023 CIT “All-Tournament Team” was announced including 10 players that competed throughout the week. Coaches were asked to vote for the players that most earned the title of being on the All-Tournament Team with ranking starting at 1 and going to 10 with 10 being the most deserving.

The 2023 CIT All-Tournament Team included:

Gavin Kesler of Gibault

Trace Fricke of Chester

Chance Mott of Chester

Isaiah Lintker of New Athens

Luke Eggemeyer of Saxony

Kameron Hanvey of Gibault

Gannon Birkner of New Athens

Shantez Holliday of Lovejoy

Gavin Schroeder of Chester

Kaden Augustine of Gibault (MVP)

The Chester High School YellowJackets were runners-up in the 59th Annual Chester Invitational Tournament. Chester won, 63-33 over Perryville in Round 1 and 52-64 over New Athens in Round 2 to advance to the Championship game. In the title game the Jackets battled hard throughout the contest in a very competitive, exciting game but fell a bit short late in the second half to seal the deal. With 14.4 seconds remaining in the game, down by just 2 points, 41-39, the Jackets were unable to get a good shot and fell to Gibault by two points. Jim Beers Photo

The Waterloo Gibault Catholic Hawks were the winners of the 59th Annual Chester Invitation Tournament January 9-14, 2023. Enroute to their title, the Hawks beat Valmeyer 78-47 in Round 1 and Saxony Lutheran 50-41 in Round 2. The Hawks escaped the Chester YellowJackets in the championship game 41-39 when the Jackets were unable to score in the final 14.4 seconds to either tie or win the game. Jim Beers Photo

The Saxony Lutheran Crusaders were the 3rd Place winners in the 2023 Chester Invitational Tournament. The Crusaders beat Lovejoy 69-64 in Round 1 and lost to Gibault Catholic 50-41 in Round 2 to face New Athens in the 3rd Place game.  The Crusaders edged the New Athens YellowJackets by just 1-point, 48-47, to win the 3rd Place trophy. Aidan Blechle Photo

The Lovejoy Wildcats are the Consolation Champions of this year’s Chester Invitational Tournament. The Wildcats lost in Round 1 to Saxony 69-64 and won against Valmeyer, 78-47 in Round 2.  In the Consolation Championship game Lovejoy beat Valle, 61-54, to claim the 59th Annual CIT Consolation Championship title. Aidan Blechle Photo

The 59th Annual Chester Invitational All-Tournament Team included 10 players selected by a vote of the eight participating coaches. Pictured are seven of the ten players who were present for the presentation of the team and accompanying trophies. (Left to right): Gavin Schroeder, Chester, Trace Fricke, Chester, Chance Mott, Chester, Luke Eggemeyer, Saxony, Gavin Kesler, Gibault, Kameran Hanvey, Gibault, and Kaden Augustine, Gibault (MVP). Not present: Isaiah Lintker, New Athens, Gannon Birkner, New Athens, and Shantez Holliday Lovejoy. Aidan Blechle Photo

The Chester High School Cheerleaders were the winners of the 59th Annual CIT Cheerleading Competition held during the 2023 CIT. Pictured (front row, left to right): Paige Thomas, Reese McCormick, Emma Eggemeyer with 1st Place plaque, Maleia Absher, and Savannah Guebert. (Middle row, left to right): Elaina Lutman, Alexis Eggemeyer, Bethany Baughman, Kourtney House, Ellen McCormick, and Callie Davis. (Back row, left to right): Southern LaChance, Megan Zimmer, Dyson Helmers, Jazzi Merideth, Liberty McCormick, and Peyton Cole. The Cheer Team is coached by Dannille Draves. Andrea Baughman Photo