(WCIA) — It was an emotional ending for the House of ‘Paign, who’s run at The Basketball Tournament ended in the quarterfinals. They were defeated 83-76 by No. 8 Red Scare, but it was more than just a loss that weighed heavy for the Illini. Malcolm Hill and Andres Feliz both lost a grandparent before Friday’s game.
“For [Malcom] to come out here and show so much heart, and playing with a heavy heat. I’m honored to coach the kid, but I’m also honored to call him a friend as well,” says head coach Mike LaTulip.
Hill lost his grandmother during the tournament, and Feliz’s grandfather passed away. Against Red Scare, Feliz delivered one of his best performances of the tournament, with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He played a keep role in keeping the door open for the Illini during the elam ending. With the score capped at 82, he helped House of ‘Paign come back from a 22-point defect, making it a two possession game.
“Talk about someone who’s sacrificing, especially just graduating from college, and coming from where he does,” says Hill. “Just the way we all sacrificed for the team–especially Andres.”
“Both of them said ‘Hey, I don’t want it to be a distraction, I obviously want it to be about the team, but life’s a lot bigger than basketball,” says Tulip.
House of ‘Paign proved themselves as the Cinderella story of the tournament, coming in as the No. 16 seed. In the round of 16, they defeated No. 1 Carmen’s Crew who were the defending TBT champs, LaTulip says there’s more to come for next year.
“We were here for about 11-12 days, and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. and one of the best basketball experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” says LaTulip. “There was way too much fun had this week to not want to not want to run it back next year. I hope anybody that watched the House of ‘Paign realizes that we’re tough dudes, and we play the game the right way. We want that to be the staple and the cornerstone moving forward.”