Previewing all 16 teams in the 52nd annual Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament. Games begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 27 in Dawson Hawkins Gymnasium. 

See complete bracket here.


Coach: Jarrett Brown 

Conference: Mid-Illini Conference

Team nickname: Potters

Miles from Pekin: 12

Season record: 8-1

Skinny on team: A team that isn’t going to play fancy, but will play disciplined basketball. Will attempt to move to ball quickly on offense and will pass up good shots for great shots. Play hard nosed, man-to-man defense.

Tournament appearances: 39 (1978-2016)

Tournament record: 74-66

Best tournament finishes: First place (1978, 1994), second place (1991), third place (five times), fourth place (twice)


Chicago Mt. Carmel

Coach: Phil Segroves

Conference: Chicago Catholic League

Team nickname: Caravan

Miles from Pekin: 170

Season record: 1-8

Skinny on team: Want to get out in transition in order to play their up-tempo style of offense. Will push the ball up the floor to force opponents to get back in transition. The Caravan make up for their lack of size with their speed. Will play physical man-to-man defense that’s typical of the Chicago Catholic League.

Tournament appearances: 10 (2007-2016)

Tournament record: 20-16

Best tournament finishes: First place (2007), second place (2009), fourth place (once)



Coach: Jeff Walraven

Conference: Mid-Illini Conference

Team nickname: Dragons

Miles from Pekin: 0

Season record: 3-6

Skinny on team: The Dragons play hard and have frustrated opponents with their tough defense, but they need better decision-making on offense and a consistent team effort on the boards to overcome a lack of height.

Tournament appearances: 52 (1965-2016)

Tournament record: 126-68

Best tournament finishes: First place (1966, 1983, 1995, 1999), second place (1969, 1977-1979, 1982, 1988-1990, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2012), third place (nine times), fourth place (eight times)


Peoria Richwoods 

Coach: William Smith

Conference: Big 12

Team nickname: Knights

Miles from Pekin: 22

Season record: 5-4

Skinny on team: Started off the season strong by winning four straight games, including the LaSalle-Peru Thanksgiving tournament. Look to run half-court offense and a face paced defense that will  create turnovers.

Tournament appearances: 25 (1972-1981, 2002-2016)

Tournament record: 57-27

Best tournament finishes: First place (1973, 1975, 2009), second place (1974, 2002, 2007), third place (three times), fourth place (once)


Plainfield East

Coach: Branden Adkins

Conference: Southwest Prairie Conference

Team nickname: Bengals 

Miles from Pekin: 142

Season record: 3-6

Skinny on team: Offensively, the Bengals will attack the basket aggressively in an attempt to put defenses on their heels. A lot of motion in their offense, with players cutting to the basket and strong drives to the hoop. Usually press high up the floor on defense to force opponents to play faster than they want to.

Tournament appearances: 8 (2009-2016)

Tournament record: 14-14

Best tournament finishes: First place (2011), second place (2014)


Peoria High

Coach: Dan Ruffin

Conference: Big 12

Team Nickname: Lions

Miles from Pekin: 13

Season record: 5-3

Skinny on the team: The Lions look to play up-tempo, but don’t employ a lot of height. They are very athletic, but not big. The team comes off of a big win over Peoria-rival Manual. Cortez Mosely has been the catalyst for the team.

Tournament appearances: 24 (1966-71, 1975-77, 1982-92, 2013-2016).

Tournament record: 53-26

Best tournament finishes: First place (1982, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992), second place (1966, 1975, 1987), third place (twice)


Springfield Lanphier

Coach: Blake Turner

Conference: Central State 8

Team nickname: Lions

Miles from Pekin: 63

Record: 7-0

Skinny on team: The reigning tournament champions lost Xavier Bishop, who is now playing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, but return Yaakema Rose. Rose is accompanied by Aundrae Williams and Cardelle McGee. The latter is getting looks from DePaul and Illinois State.

Tournament appearances: 51 (1964-94,

Tournament record: 94-81

Best tournament finishes: First place (2001, 2012, 2013, 2015), second place (1968, 1986, 2010), third place (three times), fourth place (two times)



Coach: Ryan Pierce

Conference: Northern Illinois (NIC-10)

Team nickname: Pretzels

Miles from Pekin: 131

Season record: 3-7

Skinny on team: The Pretzels play a lot of juniors and seniors, but don’t have a lot of height or established scorers from last season. Pierce’s squad has been hampered by injuries and inconsistent play this season. Freeport looks to find scoring opportunities anywhere it can, and uses balance on offense and defense.

Tournament appearances: 32 (1985-2016)

Tournament record: 41-74

Best tournament finish: Fourth place (three times)



Coach: Eddie Mathews

Conference: Mid-Illini Conference

Team nickname: Rockets

Miles from Pekin: 9

Season record: 1-9

Skinny on team: The Rockets are having trouble soaring, but few teams can match the size of junior forward Seth Kizer (6-8, 225) and junior center Jake James (6-11, 240).

Tournament appearances: 35 (1969-1974, 1978, 1989-2016)

Tournament record: 61-65

Best tournament finishes: Second place (2013), third place (twice), fourth place (twice)


Normal West

Coach: Brian Cupples

Conference: Big 12 Conference

Team nickname: Wildcats

Miles from Pekin: 43

Season record: 3-4

Skinny on team: This is a very young team. Sometimes there are five sophomores on the court. The Wildcats have had moments of excellence and stretches when they have hurt themselves with mistakes.

Tournament appearances: 22 (1995-2016)

Tournament record: 38-46

Best tournament finish: Second place (2000)


Arlington Heights Hersey

Coach: Steve Messer

Conference: Mid-Suburban League

Team nickname: Huskies

Miles from Pekin: 178

Season record: 4-4

Skinny on team: Turnovers at terrible times have cost Hersey some wins, but the Huskies have responded well to adversity and are strong on the boards.

Tournament appearances: 30 (1979-1984, 1993-2016)

Tournament record: 44-60

Best tournament finishes: Fourth place (twice)



Coach: Sean Taylor

Conference: Big Six

Team nickname: Maroons

Miles from Pekin: 101

Record: 7-4

Skinny on team: The team is jelling under first-year coach Sean Taylor, who just notched his 500th career win last week. Deonte Billups is a sophomore who can shoot and get to the basket. The Maroons are starting to find their rhythm with several players coming on strong as of late. 

Tournament appearances: 38 (1971-1990, 1995-2010, 2015-16)

Best tournament finishes: First place (1997, 2005, 2008), second place (1980, 1999), third place (three times), fourth place (three times)


Lake Zurich

Coach: Billy Pitcher

Conference: North Suburban

Team nickname: Bears

Miles from Pekin: 184

Season record: 5-2

Skinny on team: This team can shoot. Everyone on the floor is a threat to shoot the 3-pointer. The team is somewhat undersized, but everyone can play the post. The Bears are a bit better defensively than offensively. Ryan Kustor is a do-it-all player and Michael Bens is a sweet-shooting lefty.

Tournament appearances: 21 (1996-2016)

Tournament record: 36-38

Best tournament finishes: First place (2014), second place (2015), third place (once)


Champaign Centennial

Coach: Tim Lavin

Conference: Big 12

Team nickname: Chargers

Miles from Pekin: 94

Season record: 2-9

Skinny on team: The Chargers are a guard-oriented team, but injuries have hit hard, forcing Lavin to go to younger players early this season. Inexperience and youth have led to a slew of turnovers. Starting shooting guard Dante Hemsouvanh broke his arm and is out for the season. He was averaging 9.3 points per game before the injury. Centennial plays teams close, but inexperience makes it tough to close games out. Sophomore Bryson Cooper leads the team with 11.2 points per game.

Tournament appearances: 2 (2001, 2016)

Tournament record: 1-3

Best tournmament finish: N/A



Coach: Kevin Brown

Conference: Mid-Illini Conference

Team nickname: Panthers 

Miles from Pekin: 22

Season record: 6-3

Skinny on team: Organized half-court offense that is dependent on Devin Whitelow to create open looks. Physical defense often suffocates opponents into turning the ball over. Well disciplined team will take care of the basketball and look to get to the free throw line often.

Tournament appearances: 50 (1965-1968, 1971-2016)

Tournament record: 98-71

Best tournament finishes: First palce (1979, 2006), second place (1972, 2005, 2008, 2011), third place (five times), fourth place (three times)


United Township
East Moline

Coach: Ryan Webber

Conference: Western Big Six

Team nickname: Panthers

Miles from Pekin: 97

Season record: 10-0

Skinny on team: A team that is young but improving with each game. The Panthers look to run their offense through guard Tray Buchanan, often times running off of multiple screens. Hard nose defense keeps their opponents below the 50-point threshold. 

Tournament appearances: 4 (2013-2016)

Tournament record: 5-7

Best tournament finishes: N/A