The Effingham Flaming Hearts fell to the Orphans of Centralia Wednesday 61-47 at the IHSA Class 3A Effingham Regional.
The Orphans came out on fire, with freshman Koby Wilmoth scoring 14 of his 16 points while going 4-of-4 from three to put the Orphans ahead 19-2.
Jamie Long also had a strong showing in the first, making a three himself as well as a pair of layups, one of which was a three-point play to help put the Orphans ahead 27-6 at the end of the first.
“We knew we wanted to get out there and pressure the ball and deny passes,” said Effingham head coach Obie Farmer. “They had a lot of flair screens and when you switch they had something else open.
“Defensively they’re tough. They shut everything off. You can’t get anything inside the arc against them. They played really well and we didn’t in the first quarter.”
But as was the case in multiple games for the Hearts this season, they battled back and settled in defensively, as they allowed just four points and just one made field goal in the second quarter.
“After the first quarter, we started settling in,” said Farmer. “From there until the end of the game we won, but you can’t win a game in three quarters. You’ve got to play all four of them.”
As for the offense, the Hearts scored the six of the first eight points of the quarter on a layup from Parker Wolfe and back-to-back layups from Jacob Stoneburner. Wolfe followed with a three to cut the deficit to 14.
“They collapse on you hard. Nate and Stoney did a great job in the post tonight,” Farmer said. “Stoney moved a little bit quicker and got to his move just half a second quicker than Nate did, which kept the defense off a half a second so he had time to score.”
After a layup from Centralia’s Tyree Westbrook, the Hearts scored the final four points of the quarter on four-straight made free throws, two from Wolfe and two from senior Tate Niebrugge to cut the deficit to 12 going into halftime at 31-19.
In the third quarter, Wolfe was able to cut the deficit to 10 at 31-21 but back-to-back layups from Centralia’s Anthony Reed and Wilmoth increased the Orphans lead to 35-21.
But the Flaming Hearts stayed resilient, cutting the deficit to seven after a made 3-pointer from Drew Thompson at the 3:24 mark of the third quarter to make it 35-28.
Centralia’s Long made it a double-digit lead for the Orphans once again after an old-fashioned 3-point play to make it 38-28.
A layup from Nate Thompson cut the deficit again to eight with 1:35 remaining in the third, but again, Centralia responded with a big 3-pointer from Westbrook.
On the following possession for the Hearts, Thompson got a layup to fall with a foul and completed the three-point play at the line with 55 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to eight once again.
But just as they had every other time, the Orphans were able to get a layup to go in the closing seconds of the third to make it 43-33 headed to the final quarter.
Eight points proved to be as close as the Hearts would come, as the Orphans started the final quarter of play on a 7-0 run to increase the Hearts deficit to 17 at 50-33.
“With the way they were setting screens, if we switched it, they had a guy open underneath the basket,” Farmer said.
In the closing minute of the game, both teams put in their bench. Senior Wyatt Jones banked home a three to make the final score 61-47.
Wolfe led all scorers with 25 points. Nate Thompson added eight while Stoneburner added four. Drew Thompson and Jones each added three, while Jackson Lee and Tate Niebrugge each scored two.
The Flaming Hearts end the season at 19-13.
“I’ve got really good kids that work really hard,” Farmer said. “We pride ourselves on effort all year and to work harder than the other team. The kids came out every night and did that.
“To lose a big scorer like we did coming in, we had to start finding other guys to put the ball in the hoop. Eventually we did and started rolling pretty good. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back and that’s something we have really high hopes for next season.”