The Martin Luther King Classic entertains once again


S.H.S’s Homer Musgrove Fieldhouse on the day of the 2022 Martin Luther King Classic. The gym received upgrades over the last three years to restore it to it’s former glory.

  The Sterling High School Martin Luther King Classic took place on Monday January 16. Six teams competed in a series of games spanning the entire day.

  The M.L.K. Classic is a tournament hosted by S.H.S. once every year over Martin Luther King weekend, usually bringing six teams from all over the state for four games apiece. 

  This year, the format was shrunk down to just one day. With each team playing two games each. 

  The first game started at 10 a.m., and the last game was supposed to tip off at 5:30 PM. Because of how late some of the games ran, the last one did not tip off until approximately 6:45 PM.

  The schools which came to Sterling were Chicago Christ the King, Hinsdale South, Kankakee, Normal Community West, and Rock Falls. These five teams combined for 14 appearances. Antioch bowed out after two years of competing in the tournament, and Dixon backed out of last year’s classic and did not return this winter.

  “It is great to play teams that we don’t play often,” junior Lucas Austin described. “It is fun to meet new people and play with new strategies.”

  In the Golden Warriors’ first game, they faced a test in Kankakee, who came into the tournament at 14-4. Juniors Andre Klaver and Lucas Austin led the way in this game, combining for 51 points, and Sterling led by as many as 15 points before Kankakee went on a furious rally, tying the game late. In a thriller, Sterling came away with a 72-69 win in overtime as Kankakee missed a game-tying three point attempt at the buzzer.

  In this tournament, and in past games outside the tournament, Sterling was short two starters. They needed some younger players to step up, including sophomore Kaedon Phillips, who stated “It feels great going out and bringing energy for my team when we are all in sync there is no stopping us.”

  The last game of the tournament had the Golden Warriors against the Hornets of Hinsdale South. The first half was super competitive, and Sterling led by just six at the half. However, the Golden Warriors would dominate the second half, outscoring Hinsdale South 43-22 to win by a final of 81-54. Klaver and Austin tore it up again, scoring 24 points apiece and shooting 50% from the field each way.

  Head coach Ryan Vasquez highlighted, “Our defense leads to our offense and we took advantage of that opportunity on Monday during both games.”

  Four other games occurred Monday, and their results are as follows. Christ The King pulled away from Rock Falls in the fourth quarter to win 66-52. Christ The King would lose their next one to Normal West by a final of 67-59. 

  Hinsdale South and Rock Falls traded blows until the final buzzer. A 38-point fourth quarter by Hinsdale sent the game to overtime, where the Rockets staved off the Hornets’ furious rally, 91-88. Finally, in a much more defensive outing, Normal West held off Kankakee’s comeback attempt of their own, winning 56-50.

  The eighth iteration of the Martin Luther King Classic was one of the most competitive in the tournament’s history. The hope is that next year’s tournament will be even better than this one!