GALESBURG — Playing to keep its hopes of an Arrowhead Conference title alive, the Carl Sandburg College men’s basketball team turned in a championship-caliber performance.
Led by sophomore point guard Kourtlandt Martin’s (Evansville, Ind./Central) game-high 27 points, the Chargers put themselves on the verge of their first Arrowhead title in nearly three decades with an 84-71 victory over league leader Highland on Tuesday night at John M. Lewis Gymnasium.
Sandburg (20-8, 8-1) moved into a tie for first place with the Cougars (21-7, 8-1) with one game left in the conference schedule. The Chargers, who have won six in a row and 10 of their last 11, can clinch at least a share of their first Arrowhead title since 1990 with a victory at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at home against Kishwaukee on Sophomore Night.
Highland came into Tuesday’s game on a 15-game win streak and winner of 19 of its last 20 contests. The Chargers busted the run by shooting 51 percent (27 of 53) from the field and 46 percent (10 of 22) from 3-point range. Sandburg never trailed in the final 30:44, took a 45-31 lead into the locker room and led by as much as 24 in the second half.
Martin led the barrage, tying a season high with five 3s on 6 attempts and finishing 8 of 14 overall from the floor. Matt Wendling (Athens, Ill./Athens) added three 3s on his way to a double-double with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Freshman forward T.J. Pendleton (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg) added 14 points off the bench on 5-for-7 shooting, including an acrobatic finish off a lob from Tyler Houston (Knoxville, Ill./Knoxville) that pushed the Chargers’ lead to 73-52 with 5:38 to go.
“Every time Highland made a run, our guys hit a big shot and were able to respond,” Chargers coach Ryan Twaddle said. “We knew coming in we had to play a complete game and we did that. It was a great effort and we had a great crowd behind us, but we can’t overlook Kishwaukee for Thursday night. We have a chance to make history, but we have to go out and earn it.
GALESBURG — Madison Lowe (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap) had a birthday to remember.
The Carl Sandburg College women’s basketball sophomore celebrated her 20th birthday with seven 3-pointers, including back-to-back big treys in the final minutes, to help the Chargers knock off Arrowhead Conference leader Highland 66-57 on Tuesday night at John M. Lewis Gymnasium.
Sandburg (12-14, 5-4) prevented the Cougars (16-9, 7-2) from clinching at least a share of the conference title with a game to go in the league schedule.
Lowe hit three first-half 3s as the Chargers took a 31-25 lead into the locker room, then added four more in the second half, finishing the night 7 of 12 from distance and with a game-high 27 points.
Highland took a 45-43 lead on De’Azia Williams’ jumper to open the fourth quarter before the Chargers went on a 15-2 run to take the lead for good. Danayzia Stuckey (Peoria, Ill./Limestone), who tied a season-high with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, opened the burst with a pullup jumper, and Lowe followed with a 3 to give Sandburg the lead.
Highland got within 60-56 with 3:00 left, but Lowe delivered 3s on consecutive possession to push Sandburg’s advantage back to 10 with 2:00 to go.
“Maddy and Danayzia were lights-out for us, but it was a great team effort and great team win,” Chargers coach Mike Bailey said. “Hopefully we can keep it going Thursday and take some momentum into the postseason.”
Lowe and Willow Porter (Wyoming, Ill./Stark County) each had eight rebounds to lead Sandburg on the boards. Guard Alivia Cummings (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) totaled seven rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Chargers.
Naomi McKenzie scored 18 to pace Highland.
Sandburg will close out the regular season by hosting Kishwaukee at 5:30 p.m. Thursday on Sophomore Night.