BOYS BASKETBALL: Cissna Park/Yorkville Christian preview

March 5, 2019

Cissna Park knew it had the talent, but talent doesn’t always add up to wins.

It takes hard work, experience and years of painful lessons to finally put it all together and get to the mountain top.

The Timberwolves find themselves just three games away from said mountaintop, but let’s not look too far ahead.

Their biggest test of the season lies ahead in today’s Class 1A super-sectional at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena against Yorkville Christian.

Cissna Park (31-4)

Playoff path: Defeated Fisher 76-44, Milford 66-45 (regional championship), Grant Park 71-48 and Judah Christian 55-33 (sectional championship).

Aware of its talents, the Timberwolves set out all season to play the best competition possible and take everyone’s best shot.

Two of its four losses are to teams who are in a Class 2A super-sectional (Teutopolis and GC-M-S), and they hold wins over teams like Bloomington Central Catholic and Bishop McNamara.

Christian Stadeli is playing his best stretch of basketball during this playoff run, putting up 30 points, 25 points and 17 points alongside 10 rebounds in his past three games.

His older brother, Julian, has been just as effective and has scored in double digits in three playoff games. However, it’s on the defensive side with tough rebounds and blocked shots he makes his money.

Brian Fehr might not wow anyone with his scoring ability, but when the ball is in his hands, good things happen as seen with his team-leading four assists against Judah Christian.

Bailey Sluis, Ian Rogers, Keegan Boyle, Conner Lober all have the ability to do a lot of things as guards, but when that ball goes up, it’s as close to a sure thing it is going in.

Yorkville Christian (22-11)

Playoff Path: Defeated Villa Park 83-41, Parkview Christian 68-66, Harvest Christian 59-46 (regional championship), Ottawa Marquette 68-65 and Newark 56-50 (sectional championship).

The Mustangs have had a tough road, but they’ve found a way to survive and advance. It could be argued they’re playing with house money because they probably should have made it out of their sectional as a No. 3 seed.

Yet here they are, and they’re ready for the spotlight.

They have four players who average double figures in scoring, led by senior guard Colton Schutt, who came through when his team needed him with seven of their final nine points in the sectional championship victory.

His younger brother, Jaden, is the team’s leading scorer at about 17 points per game along with five rebounds and three assists per night.

Mekhi Lunsford is their main rebounder at about 10 per night along with 14 points to boost, and Tristan Phillips also adds 14 points per game from his guard position.

Key Factors

Staying out of foul trouble is the biggest key for Cissna Park. Beyond the Stadeli twins, there isn’t much height, which bodes well for Yorkville Christian, who boasts three players at 6-foot-4.

The Timberwolves did a great job playing straight up defensively, limiting Judah Christian to just eight free-throw attempts all night.

Cissna Park finished 12 of 18 at the line against Judah Christian, and that type of consistency will be needed to advance to Friday.