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Championship for Zion, respect for Carmel at Jacobs hoops tourney

Admiral Schofield (10) Zee-Bees goes up over CJ Duff (40) Corsairs.  The Carmel Catholic High School Corsairs play Zion-BentHigh

Admiral Schofield (10) of the Zee-Bees goes up over CJ Duff (40) of the Corsairs. The Carmel Catholic High School Corsairs play the Zion-Benton High School Zee-Bees in the championship game of the Hinkle Holiday Classic tournament hosted by Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Illinois on Saturday evening December 28, 2013. | Tim Carroll/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 31, 2014 6:20AM

At the end, there were smiles aplenty on both sides of the scorer’s table.

Zion-Benton’s players had the bigger grins, as was expected after the Zee-Bees disposed of pesky Carmel 61-49 on Saturday to win the championship of the 16-team boys basketball tournament at Jacobs.

But Carmel, though vanquished on this night, still had many reasons to feel good about themselves.

The Corsairs, a Class 3A team for state-tourney purposes, showed they could hang with a Class 4A power for large chunks of time. And that knowledge will serve them well when March Madness comes around.

The tourney success also was important for Zion (12-1), which beat state-power Elgin Larkin in the semifinals and also handed CL South its first loss.

This win came after Carmel built at 17-10 lead early in the second quarter. Zion recovered to lead 27-23 at the half, and it was still tight at 45-41 with 5:57 left.

That’s when Zion scored 11 straight points to win it. Four straight free throws by Milik Yarbrough (game-high 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 dimes, 3 steals) started the run and he also had a dunk during the surge.

Zion also got big games from The Admiral and Jerome Davis. Admiral Schofield had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, and Davis had 11 points off the bench.

Yarbrough, Schofield and Davis were all-tourney honorees.

Sophomore C.J. Duff had 17 points and 6-9 Jack George a double-double with 10 and 10 for Carmel. Both made the all-tourney team. Michael Barr also scored 10.

“We didn’t play that well, but we pulled it out at the end.” said The Admiral. “It was kind of slow. You have to credit Carmel (10-3) for coming out hard in the beginning and playing with a lot of energy. We have to work on our being more energetic, and coming out of the gate faster, and then pushing throughout the game instead of being a second half team all the time.

“Sometimes, second-half teams don’t pull it out if they give up a big lead and can’t come back. We want to be an all-around team and just keep pushing it every quarter.”

Yarbrough agreed that Carmel’s deliberate style of play bothered the Zee-Bees.

“We knew they were going to try to play like they did. We’re way faster and more athletic than them, so they had to find a way to slow it down, be patient, and gets points to stay in the game,” he said. “We decided we were going to put pressure on the ball. That’s what we didn’t do against Evanston (Zion’s only loss this year, in overtime). That’s why they were in the game so long. We went in at halftime and talked about putting that pressure on the ball, and we were able to do that.”

As for hitting the New Year with a 12-1 record, Yarbrough wants more.

“We have bigger goals in mind, but we definitely wanted to come in here and win a championship,” he said. “Our assistant coach, Bobby Worthington, mentioned that we had never won this tournament before, so we wanted to come in here and do something for him and Coach (Don) Kloth.”

Davis was the only non-starter in this tourney to make the all-tourney team, and he volunteered to come off the bench earlier in the year to help bring some energy to the court.

“I’m like the Energizer Bunny when I come off the bench, and it really gets us going,” he said. “I think bringing that enthusiasm helps us build our lead. We’re the type of team that feeds off energy, so we need guys that come in and play hard.

“It’s nice to win a tournament championship, but we never settle. We want state. Maybe then we’ll be satisfied.”

On the other side, Carmel coach Tim Bowen wasn’t satisfied with the loss, and made it clear his team is not interested in “moral” victories.

“We haven’t said the words ‘moral victory’ in two or three years at Carmel. I even made that a requirement. We’re not living by moral victories. We’re coming in here to win,” he said. “A lot of people could talk about the setup and how the championship game was the night before. I think our kids are poised and in a position to play with teams like Zion. We have to finish a little better at the end of the game.

“We went to that St. Viator game (a loss to a big-school power) and kind of the same thing happened to us there. We took a lot of shots and missed a lot of shots. The atmosphere was pretty intense that night. I wanted to see how we regrouped from a big night like that. Were we going to let the lights and all that peripheral stuff take our mind off the game, or were we going to stay focused?

“I thought for the most part, we stayed focused tonight and did a nice job.”

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