CHICAGO | Friday night, Seton Academy showed why they are The Times second-ranked team and a top-seed of next week's Class 2A Chicago-University Regional.
The Sting put its offense into high gear against host St. Francis de Sales and scored at least 20 points in each quarter en route to an 89-66 Chicago Catholic League-South victory.
With the win, the Sting closed out a perfect 10-game division record and will enter next week's playoffs with a 24-4 record overall. For the Pioneers (13-12, 3-7 CCLS), the loss on Senior Night was the second loss of the year to the Sting, who led by 26 points to start the final quarter Friday.
The Sting and the Pioneers could meet in the regional championship contest next week.
"You want your team to peak at this time of year, but I don't think we've peaked yet," Sting coach Brandon Thomas said. "We turned the ball over too much, we are definitely headed in the right direction."
Five of the Sting's 17 turnovers came in the closing minutes with the starters out of the game. The Sting shot 53 percent Friday, led by guard Mark Weems, who scored 20 points, and frontline players Russell Robinson and JR Tolliver, each of whom added 13 points. Tolliver also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds, eight of those coming in the first quarter.
"That is the kind of production you want from your bigs," Thomas said. "We need that. We know we are not going to be able to make eight or nine 3-point shots in every game."
The Sting started a 14-2 run midway through the first quarter to break open the game, and the Pioneers never recovered. A 12-3 Sting run in the second quarter put them ahead by 21 points. The Pioneers never got closer than 16 points after that.
"This time, we built the lead and we kept it," Thomas said. "Earlier in the year against them, we built a lead in the first half but went in and halftime only up five points. I've been challenging the guys for the last week that when we have the lead, let's put them away."
The Pioneers were led by senior Adebayo Babalola, who scored 15 points and nabbed a pair of steals. Terrone Parham and Kendall Kelly each added nine points in defeat.