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DePaul Prep's experience pays off against Richwoods

Mar. 8—Class 3A semifinal: DePaul College Prep 52, Richwoods 41

➜ The top player was ... DePaul Prep junior , who separated himself from a crowded field of candidates en route to 15 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds to lead the Rams in all categories except the latter. Six of Kvamme's points came in the fourth quarter as he helped the Rams ice the game at the free throw line, hitting four of his six attempts in the final eight minutes. He drew eight fouls on the game en route to a 5 for 8 mark from the free-throw line, and he matched that total from the field, where all of his 10 points came from within the three-point line. His assists helped senior PJ Chambers equal his scoring total while adding two rebounds and two steals of his own.

➜ The key moment was ... that stretch of fourth-quarter free throws from Kvamme that helped the Rams turn a 39-33 lead into a 43-33 edge with 4 minutes, 24 seconds let on the clock. That was joined by a few responses from the Rams during the course of the game that showcased their experience on the big stage. Rutgers signee Lathan Sommerville and Marlon Herron helped Peoria Richwoods cut its deficit to two points late in the third quarter before Jaylan McElroy responded with a personal 4-0 run to raise the gap back to 32-26 by the end of the quarter. The Knights never led in the game's final three quarters; a 5-4 lead halfway through the first quarter was their final advantage.

➜ By the numbers ... Why are the Rams so comfortable at State Farm Center? The answer starts at Peoria's Carver Arena, where the Rams first appeared in the Class 3A state tournament in 2019. After a 3A sectional exit in 2020 and no state series in 2021, the Rams placed third in 2A when the tournament moved to Champaign in 2022 and won a state title in 2023before moving back to the 3A ranks this season. DePaul's experience helped turn Richwoods over 12 times for 17 points off turnovers while maintaining an effective offensive attack. Shooting struggles that often plague teams unaccustomed to larger arenas weren't a problem as the Rams attempted just a trio of three-pointers (making two) during a 20 of 32 showing from the field. That helped overcome a game-high 18 points from Sommerville.

➜ What DePaul College Prep said ... "First of all, we're very blessed. We got some great experience playing downstate last year and winning it. We learned more the year before from Nashville, to tell you the truth. That kind of propelled us into last year and then, obviously, when we walked into the building — it's a beautiful building — our guys weren't starstruck. They've been here before. A lot of these guys have been playing since freshman and sophomore year, so I think the experience helped us a little bit. Experience usually comes right after you need it, and we had it."

DePaul College Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt

➜ What Peoria Richwoods said ... "I think they had a really good defensive strategy, packed three in the lane. We came out, we did a better job of exploiting them, getting them to turn the ball over. It seemed like every time we hit a shot, they came back and hit another big one. I think that was really the difference. ... Hats off to them. I thought they had a great strategy."

Peoria Richwoods coach William Smith