Hononegah falls short in the 4A sectional semi-final 58-53 to McHenry


2023-24 Hononegah boys basketball team

Have you ever walked into a bookstore like Inkwell Books & Threads in downtown Rockton, when you see a book that looks good. You pick it up and start to read the book blurb. You’re not sure if you want to buy it yet, so you walk over to the Talcott Library and check it out. [And later, when you realize how good it is, you go back to Inkwell and buy it!] Well, I would say the Hononegah boys basketball season was somewhat like that. Early in the season (December 8) Hononegah got a nice win over Rockford East 42-36. Just one week earlier (December 1) they struggled against NIC 10 champion Guilford, losing 71-51. This was what most of the season looked like until the playoffs got underway.

When the brackets were announced, Hononegah got a #7 seed. It was going to take a huge run and collective from the 2023-2024 Hononegah boys hoops team to reach the sectionals. Well, just like a good plot in the book, the team didn’t keep looking at how the season started. They were looking ahead at what was taking place at the peak of the story.  Since the tournament began, Hononegah has turned themselves into their best versions. Shooting went up, defense and rebounding have gotten better, taking care of the basketball has gotten better, and as Andy Gannon, voice of the Hononegah Indians, said on Friday night “Hononegah Indians: regional champs. We got more basketball to play on Wednesday night.”

Tonight's game against McHenry was pitted as the uber-talented McHenry, winners of 25 games on the season, against the 7th-seeded and underdog Hononegah Indians. Early on, the Warriors of McHenry knew this wasn’t an underdog team they were playing. After the opening quarter, McHenry led by just 2 points 9-7. The 2nd nquarter saw McHenry grab a cushion and have a halftime lead of 6 points.

Halftime saw McHenry come out and execute what they talked about in the locker room, getting the ball to Marko Visnjevac. Midway through the 3rd quarter, McHenry led by 12 points, then the Indians began to heat up from beyond the arc. One three-pointer from senior Cole Warren and another from fellow senior Darian Tholin cut the lead to 6 and at the end of the 3rd quarter the score was 41-36. McHenry opened the 3rd quarter to open a 10 point cushion over the Indians. That’s when this team in this playoff run said, "It's go time." 

Another three from senior Darian Tholin and senior Cole Warren and it cut the lead to 4. Indians with some good defensive plays and a quick 1st two-point bucket of the game cut the lead to 2. Two straight hoops from McHenry’s Marko Visnjevac (23 points) and it pushed the lead to 6. The remaining 3+ minutes of the game saw Hononegah get within 2 points with 47 seconds left. A quick foul by Hononegah and a 1 out of 2 from the line for Visnjevac made it 56-53.

A turnover by the Indians. Ball back to McHenry. Hononegah then force a 5-second call and get the ball back with 20 seconds remaining. They move the ball into the offensive end. A miscommunication on the perimeter with 9 seconds left and McHenry gets the ball back. A quick foul and 2 final free throws ends the Hononegah Playoff run as they drop the 4A sectional semi-final to McHenry 58-53.

Senior Darian Tholin lead the Indians with 17 points including five 3-pointers

Landon Claudy had 14 points including four 3-pointers

Cole Warren had 13 points including three 3-pointers

In the game the Indians finished with fourteen 3-pointers and made just three 2-point buckets.

Thank you to the IHSA, Andy Gannon, Coach Tom Schmidt, Erik Nordquist, and the entire 2023-2024 Hononegah Indians boys basketball team.

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