East Peoria boys basketball has struggled up to this point in the season, as they have had key players missing for parts of the campaign.

One of the Raiders leading scorers, Cole Morton, has also missed the Raiders most recent game against Canton due to illness.

 “Cole was sicker than heck and tried to fight through it,” Wright said. “But we finally put him down for the Canton game and he is feeling better now.”

East Peoria (3-5) have played all the majority of their season without center Jake Teegardin, who has been battling a foot injury.

“Jake has been cleared by a doctor so he is working back,” Wright said. “He’s a little tender still so he is not as explosive as he wants, but he is getting there.”

Teegardin has only played in one and a half games this season.

“This is a good opportunity to get our guys playing together because we haven’t had our full lineup most of the season,” East Peoria coach Matt Wright said. “It will be a good opportunity for them to get some chemistry.”

Despite limited time on the court, Teegardin leads the team in blocked shots, something that Wright is looking forward to getting back in the team.

“He is also a great rebounder so he is going to change the middle of our defense,” Wright said. “We have to have some growth in our upcoming games due to some of our guys getting back into action.”

East Peoria will travel to the Williamsville Tournament in Tolono from Dec. 26-28.

 “While there are smaller schools in this tournament, there is still a lot of high quality competition in the field,” Wright said. “It is a strong tournament and there are teams there that would do well in the Mid Illini.”

 Traditional basketball powers such as Pleasant Plains and Williamsville will be partaking in the tournament.

State ranked opponents Peoria Quest (13-0) and Tremont (9-0) will also be hitting the hardwood at the Williamsville tournament.

Despite the strong field, Wright hopes that his team will be able to play well and make a run at a Christmas championship.

“I think that we have got a chance to make a run down there,” Wright said. “We will see what happens.”

The opportunity to play schools outside of your conference this time of the year can prove to be a crucial learning experience for many teams.

At this time of the year, the Raiders are looking to gain confidence to take into the meat of the Mid-Illini conference play.

“Once the season gets rolling and you get into conference play, you are seeing teams twice,” Wright said. “Our guys are excited to go down there and I think they have the mindset to go down there and make some noise.”