Effingham Daily News
It took a tough layup from Clark Williamson with 15 seconds remaining in Saturday’s fifth-place game against Mattoon, but the Effingham Hearts improved to 3-1 with a narrow 48-47 victory in the St. Anthony Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Hearts then withstood Mattoon’s last-ditch efforts to foul or force a turnover in order to preserve the one-point win.
After taking a 30-23 lead at halftime, the Hearts started faltering down the stretch. Mattoon took a 47-46 lead before Williamson’s layup.
“I thought they brought it a lot more in the second half,” Effingham coach Ron Reed said of Mattoon. “They really turned it on and got after us. But, our kids hung in there and got some stops and pulled out a win.”
Williamson’s 12 points led the way for the Hearts. Reed said Williamson and the post players are a big reason for the team’s success so far.
“I thought (Williamson) did a good job against a big, physical squad,” Reed said. “Hopefully our bigs can keep getting better.”
Reed also noted the contributions of several guards, especially senior Alex Carie, who hit three first-half three-pointers to give Effingham a solid halftime lead.
“That was a real key to the game,” he said. “We went from a two- or three-point game to a 10- or 11-point game.”
While the Hearts were hoping their 2-1 pool play record would get them to the championship game, Reed said the team is happy with where it is after three straight wins.
“It was a good learning experience and hopefully it will make us better,” he said.
But, being complacent with a 3-1 record isn’t what Reed has in mind for his squad either.
“We’ve got to try to work on being more efficient at the offensive end,” he said. “Defensively, we’ve got to work on moving our feet and getting in better position.”
Hunter Keith added 11 points for the Hearts against Mattoon. Carie chipped in with nine points, and Leighton Lark had six points.
Grant Speer had 13 points to lead the Green Wave.