ALTON — Shandon Boone put everything in perspective Friday for the Marquette Catholic Explorers.
“We found a way to win,” the 5-foot-8 senior guard said after the Explorers edged rival Roxana, 48-43, in front of a full house at MCHS.
And the Explorers turned to Boone to find their boys’ basketball victory. He scored a game-best 26 points, including 9 in the fourth quarter, as the Explorers improved to 18-7. They won their third in succession while Roxana dropped to 18-9. The Shells had won 4 consecutive games and 9 of their last 11.
Boone added, “We made a few plays when we needed them down the stretch.”
Most of those were successful 3-point shots or free throws to increase their lead and ensure their win.
Roxana led 39-36 with 3:30 remaining in the see-saw game. Then Boone connected on a trey to knot things at 39-39.
Teammate Reagan Snider made a 3-pointer to give the Explorers a 42-39 advantage 31 seconds later. After the Shells cut the Marquette lead to 42-41, freshman Chris Hartrich of the Explorers countered with a trey, his only basket of the game. The Explorers led 45-41 with 1:39 to go and never looked back.
“That’s his biggest shot of the season,” Marquette coach Steve Medford said of Hartrich, a 5-8 reserve guard. “We needed someone to attack the basket and he did it.”
Medford noted, “We hit some big 3-pointers near the end of the game.”
Boone then sank four free throws to push the Explorers’ lead to 49-41 and cap a 13-2 spree in less than 3 minutes.
Shells’ coach Mark Briggs said, “Boone hit a couple of 3-pointers late in the game and (Hartrich’s) shot was really a big one. It was a game where both teams traded punches and they threw the last one.
“But I was pleased with our effort and we want another shot at those guys.”
That might play out in the upcoming Class 2A Pinckneyville Sub-Sectional. Marquette is seeded No. 2 and Roxana No. 3 in their part of the bracket and they could clash in the regional finals at Dupo.
If so, it could be another intense rivalry affair. Friday’s game featured passionate play and plenty of lead changes. Officials called a pair of technical fouls and one intentional one. The two technicals --one against each team -- came immediately after another foul on the floor, so there were three fouls on one play.
“There was a lot of energy in the game,” Boone said.
Briggs added, “It got a little chippy with the technical fouls and we might have lost some of our composure. But the kids were clawing and scratching for everything out there.”
Medford pointed out, “We were fortunate to win because we didn’t play well and they (Shells) played well. But we got a little run at the end of the game and our kids persevered.”
Boone sank 7 of 16 shots, including 4 treys, and was 8 of 15 from the foul line in guiding the Explorers. Snider contributed 11 points, thanks mostly to a trio of treys.
Overall, Marquette made 15 of 41 shots, including 9 of 29 treys. They converted 10 of 18 free throws. What boosted the Explorers was their economical ball-handling. They committed just 8 turnovers, including 4 over the final 24 minutes.
Trace Gentry’s 16 points, 10 in the second half, powered Roxana. The 6-2 senior, headed for Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, made 4 treys. The Shells hit 14 of 31 shots, 5 of them treys. They sank 10 of 19 free throws.
Juniors Zack Haas (8 points) and Zach Golenor (8 points) complemented Gentry’s production.
Marquette scored the game’s first 7 points, then Roxana retaliated with a 10-point binge. The Shells led 22-19 at half and 30-29 after three quarters, but couldn’t sustain it.
“If we play again this season, I think whichever team gets to 40 points first is going to win it,” Briggs said. “We’d like to play them again with a different atmosphere on a different floor.”
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 49, ROXANA 43
Roxana 8 14 7 14 — 43
Marquette 7 12 11 19 — 49
Roxana (18-9) — Trace Gentry 16, Zach Golenor 8, Blake Vandiver 5, Chance Foss 6, Zack Haas 8. 2FG-9 3FG-5 FT-10 PF-16
Marquette (18-7) — Shandon Boone 26, Trey Aguirre 2, Ben Sebacher 4, Reagan Snider 11, Chris Hartrich 3, Tim Derrington 3. 2FG-6 3FG-9 FT-10 PF-21