Up-start Seton surprises No. 9 Crane

SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. – Seton is going to play the role of underdog as long as it can.

Unfortunately for the Sting, their hourglass has almost expired on that, especially after No. 19 Seton upset No. 9 Crane 73-66 before plenty of watchful eyes on Tuesday.

“We had nothing to prove,” Seton coach Brandon Thomas said afterward. “They were the higher ranked team. They’re the team that some even possibly have picked to win state in 3A. We didn’t have anything to prove other than the fact that if somebody comes into our house we can defend it.”

Few teams will likely be ranked higher than Seton (8-0) a week from now, and Thomas won’t be able to hide behind that thought process. Whether he likes it or not, Seton has proven quickly this season it’s among the state’s elite teams.

Crane coach Chris Head certainly left Seton’s gym impressed how the Sting dissected his team with 3-pointers, rebounding, inside play, defensive pressure and overall teamwork.

“They do some things that remind of my old Westinghouse team,” said Head, who coached Westinghouse to a state title. “They get up and down the court. They press. They run and jump. They shoot the 3 in transition. They do some real untraditional things.”

Seton’s unique style was on full display while it overtook Crane (1-1) in the third quarter. After trailing 34-33 at halftime, the Sting pushed ahead for good late in the third quarter by forcing Crane into turnovers and knocking down 3-pointers. When the quarter was up, Crane had committed nine turnovers to Seton’s one, and the Sting had drained five 3-pointers to go ahead 59-51.

“This is the first game we were down at halftime,” Thomas said. “We’ve been waiting for some adversity. This is the first time we faced any adversity, and we were okay.”

Seton junior guard Mark Weems Jr. especially came through in the deciding third quarter. He scored 10 points, made two 3-pointers and had one steal. He finished with 16 points.

But Seton was more than one-man wrecking ball against Crane. The Stings had four players in double figures and went six deep on their bench.

Senior guard Jordan Foster (13 points, three steals), senior forward J.R. Tolliver (17 points, nine rebounds) and junior guard Kamai Shasi (14 points) contributed for Seton.

Being only Crane’s second game, Head wasn’t too down about the loss.

“What I really tried to do was prolong the season as long as possible to get as many reps, as many practices with the kids as possible,” Head said. “We couldn’t wait until Christmas. We’re playing a heck of a schedule. We knew coming in it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Crane junior guard Markee Williams had 13 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, in his season debut. He was ruled eligible on Monday.

Senior guard Willie Conner led Crane with 23 points.