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Maine East wins first Luther North Holiday Classic championship

12/30/2013, 10:30pm CST
By Michael Wojtychiw

Travon Jones scored 14 points in the first half as Maine East knocked off Taft 62-49 for the tournament title at Luther North.

Taft was looking to win its second Luther North Holiday Classic title in the past three years. Maine East was looking to create school history by winning its first Luther North title in the five years the team has been in the tournament.

Maine East's Abbey George and Travon Jones made sure the Blue Demons accomplished their goal, leading the team to a 62-49 win in Monday night's title game.

"This means a lot to us,'' said George, who finished with 10 points. "You hear people chanting 'Maine who?' when we're warming up and we don't like that.''

"We want people  to know who Maine East is and winning this opened up at least some people's eyes.''

Maine East (5-7), which defeated Taft in the third place game a year ago, started off missing its first two shots and being turned over by the Eagles. But once Justin Brooks knocked in his first points with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, the game was the Blue Demons' to lose.

After getting out to a 13-8 lead after the first quarter, Maine East stepped up its defense. Taft did not hit a field goal until there was 2:23 remaining in the first half. By that time, the Blue Devils owned a 25-14 lead.

"What this tournament did was help our team grow together,'' said Maine East coach Dave Genis. "We started out not so good against Jones in our first game, but our offense is fluid now. It looks a lot better after thus four game winning streak.''

Taft star John Joyce, who had had multiple games of 30 or more points in the tournament, was shut down in the first half, scoring just three points.

As Joyce struggled, Jones was going off, scoring 14 points in the first half on 5-for-5 shooting. Even though he battled foul trouble, Jones ended up with a game-high 18 points.

Taft cut the lead to 11 with 2:26 remaining on a Joyce three-pointer, but would not get any closer.

Thirteen missed free throws and 16 turnovers certainly did not help the Eagles (5-8), who looked out of sync for most of the night.

Ezeka Omeke added 12 points for Maine East. Joyce and Fernandos Johnson each had 16 in the loss.

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Catherine Steegmueller

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