STERLING – No Jereme Richmond, no problem.
Richmond, the Sauk Valley Predators’ leading scorer and rebounder, was home in Waukegan with bronchitis. His teammates did not need any help Friday, as they cruised past the Chicago Redline 119-103 at Sterling High School’s Musgrove Fieldhouse.
Carlton Fay, a Putnam County High School and Southern Illinois University product who was a member of the team last season, returned from a lengthy season in Uruguay.
He scored 10 points in a supporting role to Kwan Waller, Casey Love, and company. Waller scored 20 points, while Love had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
“I just got back Sunday and called [Predators owner Brad Grenoble] to try to keep playing,” Fay said. “We played about 45 or 50 games. I was tired all week, but once you get on the court, you forget about that.”
It took a while for Sauk Valley (4-0) to get going. Leading the Redline (0-3) 32-30 with just over 6 minutes left in the first half, the Predators erupted, closing the half with a 19-4 blitz for a 51-34 lead.
Fay ignited the burst with a 3-pointer, and Kwan finished it with a three-point play and a 3-pointer. In between, Charles Corbin (8 points, 13 rebounds) hit a hook shot, Love knocked down a pair of free throws, Heath Hoffman scored inside, Waller hit a 2, and 7-footer Joe Wolfinger (17 points, 11 rebounds) tipped in his own miss.
“He’s a pro, and I love playing with pros,” Waller said of Fay. “It makes the game a lot easier. With him and Jereme, we’re going to be something to reckon with.”
The difference ballooned to 24 at 66-42 with 8:13 left in the third quarter, when Love finished a bit of a sloppy alley-oop.
Chicago chipped away, however, eventually getting within 10 twice in the final moments of the third quarter before the Predators put things away. Sauk went up 25 before the Redline made things a bit more respectable.
“Without Jereme, everybody had to pick it up,” Love said. “We didn’t come in with a lot of energy. We let each other down in the first half, but we came out in the second half and did what we were supposed to do.”
DeAndre Taylor added 13 points, while Jeremiah Box and Keith Radcliff tossed in 11 apiece for the Predators.
Five-foot-9 spark plug Diante Watkins scored a team-high 27 points for Chicago. Maurice Carter added 17 and Robert Broughton 15.