CENTRALIA — Trenton Frey’s play Thursday during Effingham’s opening game at the 70th Annual Centralia Holiday Tournament pretty much summed up the Hearts’ day.
Despite facing an early eight-point hole against a talented Redbirds team, Frey and the Hearts refused to back down.
Frey took a pair of charges in the second quarter, helping his team stay within striking distance after a shaky start.
Effingham (7-2) then battled back to take the lead for good with a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter and held on late for a 46-43 come-from-behind win, setting up a quarterfinal showdown with top-seeded Cahokia (8-2) today at 2 p.m.
Frey fully intended on taking a third charge in the waning seconds in order to deny Alton a game-tying basket and a shot at overtime redemption, but it turns out he wouldn’t need to.
Alton’s Tyrome Parker beat his defender and had his sights set on a game-tying layup with less than five seconds to go, but Frey stepped into Parker’s path and stood his ground. Parker collided with Frey and both players went sprawling to the floor, but there was no whistle on the play.
Jake Stombaugh was fouled after corralling the deflected ball. He hit 1 of 2 free throws, and Alton’s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer was well off.
Had Frey been whistled for a foul on the play, Alton very well could have tied the game at the line. But Frey and the EHS coaching staff had no intention on giving Alton anything easy in the closing seconds, and it paid off.
“Coming out of the timeout, (assistant) coach (Charlie) Schwerman was like, ‘Let’s get a third (charge),’” Frey said. “I saw (Parker) get by (his defender), so I just stepped up and tried to take another one. I figured there would be a whistle, but it was coming down late in the game and they may not have wanted to call a foul.”