Effingham Daily News
Allowing St. Elmo/Brownstown’s Levi Maxey to have the ball with the game on the line was the last thing South Central head coach Rick Simmons wanted on Tuesday, but the first thing he knew the Eagles would look to.
Maxey scored all 10 of the Eagles’ points in overtime, including a 6-for-8 performance from the free throw line in the extra period, leading the team to a 67-64 win over the Cougars.
The senior led the Eagles to a 61-57 lead with less than 1:30 left in overtime and finished off the Cougars after they made a comeback to tie the game, 62-62.
South Central’s Evan Langley made a layup to tie the game with 50 seconds left, but Maxey found himself at the free throw line after Dre Hill fouled him in the open floor.
Maxey made both free throws, his team in the double bonus, and stole the ensuing inbounds pass. Brett Harmeier was forced to foul Maxey with 17 seconds left. On back-to-back plays, Hill and Harmeier fouled out of the game.
South Central made a layup to bring the game withing two points, 66-64, with four seconds left. Maxey was fouled again and went 1-for-2 from the line, but knocked away the Cougars’ following outlet pass to try to set up a 3-pointer as time expired.
“Having been around and seen (the Eagles) play, I knew what (Maxey) was capable of,” Simmons said. “I knew if we got into a situation where the ball was in his hands, we’d be in trouble.”
The Cougars let an eight-point lead, 53-45 with 2:34 left to go in the fourth quarter, slip away. The Eagles tied the game at 55-55 just 1:12 later.
Eagles head coach Greg Feezel said a string of missed shots and poor defense sank his team into the fourth-quarter hole, but it was what South Central failed to do that opened the door.
South Central was in the bonus with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter, leading 49-43, but couldn’t capitalize on its next two trips to the line and finished 4-for-11 from the free throw line in the game.
The Cougars held a 7-3 foul advantage when they got into the bonus, but made costly fouls down the stretch and ended the game having committed more second-half fouls than the Eagles.
Maxey completed a three-point play at the free throw line, after being fouled on a layup, which made it 55-51 with 2:16 to play in the fourth quarter. Jacob Behrends made 2-of-2 at the free throw line on the Eagles’ next possession, making the game 55-53.
South Central sent Maxey to the line with a chance to win the game with eight seconds left, on an open-floor foul by Hill, but Maxey missed off the front end of a one-and-one.
“We were getting freebies and giving up freebies on the other end,” Simmons said. “We were 4-for-11 and in the one-and-one early, and couldn’t capitalize on it.”
The Cougars couldn’t slow down the pace of the game with their eight-point lead either, Simmons said, which showed the team’s inexperience.
“I’m trying to get these guys to slow down and run some clock – we had a lead, there’s no sense in rushing,” Simmons said. “I told them to run clock, but after two passes they shoot it.”
Maxey, the star of the game, finished with 28 points – a performance that a senior should be expected to have when his team needs it, Feezel said.
“You have to hope your seniors take over,” Feezel said. “He did it in the second half. He did what he should’ve done.”
Both teams will be back in action on Friday. The Eagles (1-1, 1-1 NTC) play Neoga and South Central (0-2, 0-1 NTC) plays Odin.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Elmo/Brownstown 12 17 7 21 10 67
South Central 16 12 15 14 7 64
SEB: L. Maxey 28, Behrends 15, M. Maxey 13, Smithson 5, Frailey 4, Bauer 2
South Central: Langley 18, Hill 15, Harmeier 14, Riley 11, Ross 4, Wilkins 2