Ayden McCool

Ayden McCool, seen in action from earlier this year, scored eight points in Saturday’s quarterfinal loss for the Monticello eight-grade boys’ basketball team. The Sages dropped a 56-38 decision to Glenwoood Brookwood.

TOLONO – For the second year in a row, the Monticello Sages dreams of a state championship in the Illinois Elementary School Association were ended by a talented squad from Glenwood Brookwood. Last year, the two schools faced each other as seventh-graders in the state title game and Brookwood earned a 52-45 win for the championship. This year, as eighth-graders, the two teams met again and the Sages fell 56-38 in the quarterfinals at Tolono Unity High School on Saturday.

“We kind of hurt ourselves a little bit,” said Sages Head Coach Mike Stokowski. “At the beginning, we threw the ball away and I think we were a little bit nervous.”

Brookwood opened the game with a full court press and immediately forced a turnover. The Bulldogs scored with a lay-up and followed that up with a three-pointer and the Sages found themselves trailing 11-2 after just three minutes of play.

By the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs’ lead was 21-5.

The Sages calmed down in the second quarter and each team added a dozen points, but Monticello still trailed 33-17 at the half.

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Monticello made a run in the third quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 11-7. A layup by Gus Reppert closed the gap to 40-28 with :50 left in the quarter and the Sages seemed to have the momentum. Ayden McCool hit a free throw early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 11 at 40-29, but the Sages could get no closer.

“We worked hard all year,” Stokowski said. “I love their hustle and their heart. They are great kids, they really work hard and I am proud of them. This is a tough loss but this is a good group of kids.”

The Sages ended the season with a record of 18-9. The Sages shot 11 of 21 from the free throw line.

Reppert was the high scorer for the Sages, pouring in 13 points. McCool was next with eight. Grant Kiger added four points. Forrest Rawdin, Luke Murphy and Dawson Gairtros each had three points. Jake Motsegood added two points and Matthias Rudolph added two free throws.