Boys burn Leafs in Pekin opener

Bryan Veginski
Driving to victory: Cameron Sharp, a Washington junior, slices through the Geneseo defense Monday during the second half of the Panthers’ 46-32 boys basketball win on the opening day of the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament.

The Washington boys basketball team produced another dynamite defensive effort Monday night.

In a rematch of last year’s Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament opener, the Panthers buried Geneseo, 46-32.

Washington (7-2) gave up the same number of points to the Maple Leafs as a season ago, when it won by 31.

“I thought the defense was great,” said WCHS head coach Kevin Brown.

Although Geneseo was held to single digits in every quarter, the game was not put away until the fourth quarter.

Panther Robert Izaguirre tallied all of his 17 points over the final three quarters to lead all scorers.

Izaguirre’s two three-pointers at the beginning of the fourth period extended the Washington advantage to 43-26.

Despite a limited game offensively, Ryan Grebner shined defensively.

“Ryan Grebner gave us an incredible defensive effort,” Brown said.

The Underwood brothers, Connor and Colton, were a big presence inside in the first half.

They combined for 13 points and had the opportunity to complete a trio of three-point plays.

Geneseo got within 16-13 in the second stanza behind the play of reserve Michael Ashpole before a 14-4 Panther run to close the first half.

Izaguirre made a couple treys surrounding four Colton Underwood points to make it 26-17.

Cameron Sharp beat the second-period buzzer by one-tenth of a second while getting fouled to increase the margin to 13 points.

Sharp also was a help defensively, Brown said, using his athleticism.

The teams combined for only 16 third-period points as the Leafs stayed in contact with a 7-0 spurt.

Washington’s high-level play at the defensive end did not always transfer.

“That energy has to go to the other end of the floor,” Brown said.

After an active first half, the Panthers’ post play quieted over the last 16 minutes.

Both Underwoods, Mark Roth and Sharp all supplied between five and seven points for Washington.

Panther sophomore Isaac Fisher remained sidelined with a back ailment that is slow to improve.

Ashpole, with 10 points, was the lone Geneseo player in double figures.

Adding interest to the first-round matchup was the fact the schools’ annual non-conference series was discontinued this year.

Update: Washington lost to No. 2 seed Chicago Mt. Carmel Tuesday afternoon, 72-52, in the quarterfinals.

The Panthers played late last night against Freeport. Washington's next game is at either 11 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. today.