Doyle, Wires spark Illinois’ full-court attack in third straight Muddy River Showcase victory


Illinois forward Dion Doyle gets inside of Missouri's Quinn Thomas during the first half of Saturday's third annual Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College's Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Dion Doyle decided this was the perfect opportunity to run it back.

The Macomb basketball standout was part of a team that included Quincy High School’s Ralph Wires that won back-to-back Gus Macker 3-on-3 championships when the event was a Memorial Day weekend staple in downtown Quincy.

Saturday, the duo reunited in the third annual Muddy River Showcase, guiding the Illinois all-stars to a 92-70 victory over their Missouri counterparts at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center. It was Illinois’ third consecutive victory in the series.

“This was our last-ever high school game,” Doyle said. “It felt good to get out and go, but it was kind of bittersweet since this is the end.”

To finish the way Doyle and his 3-on-3 counterpart did made it memorable.

“We’ve been playing together for seven or eight years,” Wires said of his relationship with Doyle. “Reuniting with him was awesome. I enjoyed playing with all of these guys and battling with them. This was a great group of guys.”

It took some toughness and tenacity to fend off the Show Me State.

Missouri led 32-26 with less than four minutes remaining in the second quarter by capitalizing on Illinois’ woeful start offensively. The Land of Lincolners went 6 of 21 from the field and 0 of 5 from 3-point range in the first quarter.

“We were shooting bad shots,” Wires said. “We certainly weren’t shooting our best. We were missing bunnies and dunks, too. It just wasn’t going our way.”

The Show Me State’s ability to keep Illinois from scoring in transition built confidence.

“I didn’t think they expected us to play as good as we did,” Highland’s Brady Campen said.

Ultimately, the ability to create easy offense with defensive pressure changed the game. Illinois closed the first half on a 16-2 run, scoring eight points off turnovers.

“They’re a great team, but we figured they couldn’t run with us once we got going,” Doyle said. “Once we get going up and down the floor, it’s kind of hard to stop us. We were pushing each other, and this was a great group of guys.”

Illinois swingman Camden Brown, left, tries to keep Missouri guard Bear Bock from driving to the basket during the second half of Saturday’s Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

Sharing the basketball influenced that attack.

The Illinois squad forced 22 turnovers, which led to a 27-7 advantage in points off turnovers, but it also dished out 16 assists, which led to shooting 46 percent from the field in the second half. Quincy High School’s Camden Brown and Tyler Sprick and Pittsfield’s Brennan Tomhave had a team-high three assists apiece.

“At the beginning, we were settling for the first shot too much,” said Zack Evans, the Winchester West Central all-state guard who has signed with John Wood Community College. “We weren’t trusting each other. Once we started trusting each other, knowing we can all score the ball at a high level, we started to calm down and everything went smoothly from there.”

Doyle scored 24 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had three steals in earning Illinois MVP honors, while Brown had 14 points and seven rebounds, Evans finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Wires collected 11 points, five steals and two assists.

“Our whole lineup was deep,” Evans said. “It was a super-athletic group, and it was a blast to play with them.”

Illinois’ depth proved key in the second half. Missouri shot 50 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, but attempted just 30 shots because of lost possessions due to Illinois’ defense.

“It was great to be around great players,” Doyle said.

Campen led Missouri with 11 points and 11 rebounds to grab MVP honors, while Van-Far’s Nikos Connoway and South Shelby’s Chance Rainey scored 13 points apiece. Palmyra’s Carson Hicks had 11 points, while Palmyra teammate Bear Bock finished with six points and 10 rebounds.

“Oh, beyond proud of this effort,” Campen said. “Just being able to play and get out here with these guys was a blast.”

It’s a memory none of them will forget.

“We knew getting to play with this many athletic players was going to be a blast,” Evans said. “Coming out on top feels great.”

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