Sports: Braves Basketball Bounces Back At Illinois Tournament

by Jeremiah Davis

Coming off of two blowout wins to start the season, the St. John Bosco basketball team traveled to Illinois to compete in the Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions.

Bosco Basketball continued their good form following a 76-40 win over Long Beach Jordan and a 74-49 win over Hesperia as they ventured to Washington, Illinois to compete in the Washington Invitational Tournament. 

The Braves narrowly dropped their first game, 55-50, partly due to a quick turnaround as they arrived at their hotel in Chicago at around midnight the previous night, with the game scheduled in the morning.

However, this mishap only motivated the Braves as they rebounded from their close loss to go undefeated for the remainder of the tournament.  They won the last three games rather comfortably, with a 50-43 win over Metamora High School, a 76-33 demolition of Tinley Park and a defeat of the hosts Washington 52-44 to finish the tournament.

The Braves benefitted from great team basketball, with key contributions from the bench to complement the great efforts of the starting players, including senior Christian Estrada, freshman Elzie Harrington and junior Delyle Williams.  The hard work and unselfish play of the team was well received as Bosco finished with one of the top records in the entire tournament.

The schedule for the Braves was unfavorable, to say the least. Coming from the west coast, the adjustment to a different time zone in a hurry was not easy. However, the Braves were able to make the necessary adjustments which ultimately led to the accomplishment of their goals to win and establish themselves as one of the premier teams at the tournament. 

“It was an amazing experience. We did a whole bunch of things while we were out there. On the court, we played four games against some really good teams. We played two games on the first day while the next day we had Thanksgiving.  We also played one game on Friday and one game on Saturday. Unfortunately, we lost the first game due to a lack of sleep, but [we] caught up on some sleep and didn’t lose from there,” said Estrada.

Estrada’s perseverance paid dividends as he averaged 15 points and twelve rebounds in the tournament while earning the All-Hustle Award. 

With all the positives regarding the Braves’ on-court experiences, they still were able to have a fun time off the court as well.

“Off the court, we had a pretty great time. As a team, we were able to go bowling, play laser tag, and play video games.  We also went on a tour of Chicago while also going to this famous place as well. For Thanksgiving, we had a feast for all the teams which was extremely good.  For dinner, we enjoyed a team meal which was delicious. Chicago has amazing Italian food,” said Harrington.

In terms of the city, the Braves enjoyed every aspect of it, from the food to the games to the scenery.   

“That city in particular loves basketball.  It was a cool experience as we got to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.  It was also a cool environment to play in as we even got to play in front of packed crowds.  The people were also very friendly as they never really saw kids from other states and kids swarmed our team after every game.  As far as the game, it was a blessing to be able to play in front of a crowd like that.  When I got into the game, I wanted to make as much of an impact as possible.  It felt as if I had taken a sip of “Mike’s secret stuff,” the game was just flowing for me,” Williams said.

Overall, the trip was a great success both on and off the court. As a team, the Braves came together as one and found common ground to achieve an important goal in winning, while they bonded off the court as they spent Thanksgiving week together. 

Heading into December, the Braves currently hold a 5-1 record, with their next game coming up on December 7th at home, against Grand Terrace. This game is scheduled to be part of a tournament dubbed “The Bosco Winter Classic.” 

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