Despite often being the bottom seed in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, the host Indians are typically competitive with some top-notch opponents. Playing in these games seems to help them improve their transition game and defensive toughness, which is their identity under head coach Durrell Robinson.
These team traits showed in Friday night’s 72-64 victory over Prairie Central in Illini Prairie Conference action in Pontiac.
“They did a great job establishing what we are trying to do on defense,” Robinson said. “That’s what helped us control the game. The starters did a great job, and a couple guys off the bench did as well.”
The Indians were firing on all cylinders to begin the game, as they quickly gained a 5-0 advantage on a three by Peyton Amm and a bucket by Ryan Weir.
After a free throw by Trey Bazzell made it 7-3, the Hawks failed to score again until a Kaden King lay-in at the 2:40 mark.
“We are just not tough enough, that’s the bottom line,” Prairie Central head coach Darin Bazzell said. “When the going got rough, we folded. We are not mentally tough enough.”
A free throw by Pontiac’s Mike Davis and two more from Weir gave the Indians a 12-5 lead after one quarter. The Hawks could not get their offensive game going, as the Indians clamped down defensively and forced some tough shots.
The cold streak for the Hawks continued into the second quarter as Pontiac continued to own them on that end of the floor. Weir scored two more of his 15 first-half points on a steal and score to make it 25-14 with 2:15 left in the half.
Moments later, a technical foul by Robinson seemed to give PC a little bit of momentum, as Bazzell and Wyatt Steidinger each knocked down a free throw. But, the Hawks could not convert the extra possession they were granted as they trailed 29-20 heading into halftime.
The third quarter began much like the start of the game, as a quick 6-2 spurt by Pontiac on two lay-ins by Joey Murphy and another by Weir made it 35-22.
A timeout by PC prompted a response by the Hawks, as they used a 12-4 run to cut the lead to five at 39-34. Six points apiece by Steidinger and Connor Haab sparked the run.
The Hawks were unable to get any closer, however, as the Indians scored the next seven points on two buckets by Max Gschwendtner and a three by Ben Schuler to make it 46-34.
“We cut it to what, six or seven, and then had three turnovers and it was to 12 or 13,” Bazzell said. “That was the game right there. We never recovered because we aren’t mentally tough enough.”
The lead would continue to grow from there, eventually reaching 20 at 63-43 on two foul shots from Weir with 5:35 left. Weir finished with a game-high 19 points.
A nice spurt by the Prairie Central reserves cut the lead down to eight, but it was too little too late as the Indians cruised to the home victory.

JV Prairie Central 58, Pontiac 40
In the junior varsity match, it was Prairie Central’s time to shine in the late frames for a 58-40 win over the host Indians.
The Hawks led 15-14 after the first quarter and 28-23 at the half. But after the break, it was all Prairie Central as the Hawks scored 14 and 16, respectively, in the third and fourth quarters, while Pontiac hit for 10 and 7 points.
Davis put in 10 for the Indians, while Adcock had 8 and M. Murphy 7.
For Prairie Central, Vaughan had 26 points, Goad added 12 and Krenz had 8.