Posted On: 12/25/18 12:00 PM

The 54th Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament tips-off on Thursday with a dose of central Illinois teams and sprinkle of different areas, including Missouri, in the field.

Top-seeded Moline has the most complete team on paper. Normal West and Lanphier have played for the last two championships with the Lions winning 64-19 in 2016 but the Wildcats getting their revenge in a 52-48 win last year. However, both have questions entering this year’s tournament with having to replace the production of Francis Okoro and Cardell McGee, respectively.

Let’s meet the field.

Top Seeds

1. Moline (8-2)

The Maroons already have wins over tournament opponents United Township (67-56) and Normal West (55-45).

Deonte Billups, Moline

Moline is paced by Deonte Billups (2019), who is averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds per game. Guard Brody Harding (2019) is committed to play baseball at the University of Illinois but is averaging 12 points and 4 assists per game. Sharpshooter Drew Wiemers (2019) is scoring 12 points per game and his 6-foot-3 frame helps him grab 5 rebounds per game. Harrison Bey-Buie (2020) is rounding into shape after suffering an injury during football.

2. Morton (10-2)

The Potters opened the season with an overtime loss to Chatham Glenwood at the Jacksonville Tournament before rattling off nine-straight wins, only to be interrupted by Normal Community. They are allowing 42.1 points per game. Morton finished third in last year’s tournament.

Jarrett Crider, Morton

Uncommitted 5-10 guard Jarrett Crider (2019) is a streaky shooter and good at changing speeds to get to the basket. He has active hands defensively, as evident by his winning of the Mr. Hustle award at last year’s tournament. Olivet recruit Barik Olden (2019) is a tough matchup as a 6-6 guard. He can shoot it from the perimeter and will post up. Grant Gudeman (2020) can space the floor to allow Morton more space to work off pick-and-rolls.

3. United Township (8-3)

United Township lost to top-seeded Moline in Western Big 6 play and beat Normal West (56-48) as a tune-up for before the holiday break.

The Panthers are balanced in contributions throughout their rotations but 6-3 guard Jean Luc Wilson (2019) makes the team go. Atem Agot (2019) and Daevion Ellis (2019) are 6-5 and 6-6, respectively, and are a difficult matchup. Agot is a guard that that can shoot and Ellis bangs in the post.

4. Lanphier (5-4)

The Lions are coming off confidence-building wins over Rochester and Peoria High. Before that, Lanphier struggled in losses against East St. Louis (71-47), Springfield-rival Southeast (73-37) and Urbana (73-55).

Karl Wright, Lanphier

Athletic 6-6 forward Karl Wright (2019) leads the Lions. He’s a strong rebounder and can make thing happen around the rim. Tye Banks (2022) is a rising prospect and at 6-2 can do a variety of things.

Watch Out For…

-Mt. Carmel (9-3) – The Caravan have had an impressive start to the season and have a balance through its rotation. Josh Redic (2019) is an exciting guard at 6-3 that can play outside and bounce off the floor. Point guard Will Mendez (2019) is a floor general and embraces the role. Arinze Egbuna (2019) is a tough match-up around the rim at 6-5.

-Richwoods (8-3) – The Knights have an added element with 6-4 wing Cortez Mosley (2019) transferring from Peoria High. He is aggressive attacking the basket and in transition. Isaiah Donnell (2021) is an intriguing prospect because of his length and athleticism as a 6-2 guard. He’s shown glimpses of scoring in bunches. Jaydion Davis (2019) is strong as a post despite being undersized at 6-4.

Prospects To Watch

Gus Lucas (2022), 6-5, F – Washington
Rickey Woods (2021), 6-3, G – Washington
Kellen Thames (2022), 5-11, G – Pattonville (MO)
Adam Cash (2021), 6-0, G – Pekin
Justin Taphorn (2021), 6-4, G – Pekin
Max Jones (2020), 6-1, G – Pekin
Patrick Torrey (2019), 6-7, C – Pekin
Mike Dunne (2019), 6-5, F – Limestone
Nate Thornton (2020), 6-3, F – Limestone
Josh McElrath (2019), 6-2, G – Richwoods
Jaden Snodgrass (2020), 6-2, G – Lanphier
Anthony Brown (2020), 6-4, F – Rockford Boylan

Watch on the NFHS Network: