ST. ELMO —
The finish was set up perfectly for Beecher City.
Brady Barnes scored his only field goal of the game to give the Eagles an eight-point lead with 2:09 left against St. Elmo/Brownstown, but Beecher City left the door open one too many times. It cost them, as St. Elmo/Brownstown won 52-46 in overtime and advanced to the finals of the St. Elmo Holiday Tournament.
Beecher City's Adam Doty missed two free throws on an intentional foul with a little over a minute to go, but made a layup on his team's next possession to make the game 41-35. It could've been 43-35.
SEB's defense forced a five-second violation, down three points, and capitalized with a Levi Maxey 3-pointer to the tie the game. The basket was Maxey's second on consecutive possessions.
Both teams failed on their final possessions of the fourth quarter. Beecher City tried setting up an isolation play for Barnes, but he dribbled it off his foot and a jump ball gave SEB the ball with two seconds left. Maxey failed to get a shot off before the buzzer.
But St. Elmo/Brownstown made the comeback, taking a 41-41 game into overtime. Good news, if you ask SEB head coach Greg Feezel.
“I've always believed the team that comes back and ties it up has the momentum,” Feezel said. “We scored a couple times and then made them chase us.”
SEB won 52-46, making 10-of-12 free throws in overtime after Landon Feezel started the scoring for the team with a layup.
Beecher City clung to life, despite two missed free throws by Jacob Kenter in a 44-41 game.
Doty made a 3-pointer with less than a minute to go and forced a turnover on the ensuing possession; however, he attempted a long inbounds pass that sailed over the intended target and into the Beecher City bench.
“Things like that can't happen in those situations,” Beecher City head coach Jason Eirhart said. “As many good things as Adam does, he can do some silly things on top of it. Our guys have to go to the ball and get open.”
The errant pass turned out to be the last mistake Beecher City made in the six-point loss and that puts them in the third-place game of the St. Elmo Holiday Tournament, against Okaw Valley today.
SEB advances to the title game against Altamont — the same championship matchup as each of the last two years. St. Elmo/Brownstown won both.
“I feel like we should've won that game,” Eirhart said. “We did some dumb things down the stretch that we hadn't done the whole game. It cost us.”
Eirhart's team found a way to put itself in a position to win the game, despite only five points from Barnes. The post player led the team with 21 points in a win over Ramsey two nights ago.
St. Elmo/Brownstown double-teamed Barnes from the first possession to the last of the game. Feezel said his team had no other choice.
“We just kind of gambled,” Feezel said. “I figured it we went straight up man-to-man, Brady would have 30 (points). He's still one of the best players in this tournament, if not the best.”
Eirhart said he knows Barnes would've made the game-winning shot with 14 seconds left had he only had one defender on him, instead of two, because the play Beecher City ran was a common one that Barnes typically scores on.
The ball bounced off of Barnes foot, which was just another sign of an uncharacteristic night for him.
“I thought he kind of got disconnected from the game,” Eirhart said. “It was his body language, I could tell. There were a couple times, even when he had an opportunity for a rebound he wasn't ready for it.”
In Friday night's earlier game, Ramsey beat Mulberry Grove to advance to Saturday's consolation championship game against Cowden-Herrick at 5 p.m.
South Central will play Mulberry Grove at 3:30 p.m., while Beecher City plays Okaw Valley at 6:30 p.m. and SEB tries to defend its title against Altamont at 8 p.m.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beecher City 8 7 11 15 5 46
St. Elmo/Brownstown 4 10 15 12 11 52
Beecher City: Gardner 7, Doty 11, Bales 5, Lagerhausen 9, Rexroad 3, Kenter 4, Barnes 5, Harder 2
SEB: M Maxey 3, L Maxey 20, Behrends 19, Smithson 4, Feezel 6
ST. ELMO —
The finish was set up perfectly for Beecher City.
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