COLUMBIA — The Civic Memorial Eagles and Marquette Catholic Explorers sure didn't shy away from dramatic finishes on Wednesday for the final day of the Columbia-Freeburg Holiday Tournament.
CM nabbed third with a down-to-the-wire 51-48 victory over Freeburg and Shandon Boone's buzzer-beating 3-pointer led Marquette to a 51-49 triumph over Waterloo for fifth place.
Both squads went 3-1 in the tournament. The Eagles are now 10-3 on the season, while the Explorers sit at 9-3.
“It was a pretty poor shooting night, we missed so many inside shots,” CM head coach Doug Carey said. “I think we missed eight inside shots in the first half and we've just got to start making some shots and some free throws down the stretch, but we did enough to win and we'll take the win.”
The Eagles might have missed shots against Freeburg, but they more than made up for it with their defense. They forced the Midgets into 18 turnovers, but 15 in the second half as they relentlessly pressured and harassed their opponent.
“We were up and pretty much pressured them for 32 minutes and actually I think it wore them out quite a bit in the fourth quarter,” Carey said. “I think they were tired... We did a good job defensively. I'm proud of the effort tonight.”
First-year Freeburg head coach Matt Laur, who was an assistant for the SIUE men's basketball team last season, thought the stifling CM pressure was definitely a factor in the second half.
“We knew coming in they were a run and jump team and were going to play us full court man and I thought in the first half we did a good job of taking care of the ball, but as our guys started getting tired and legs started getting tired so went their mental capacity as well and it was a situation where we either got a layup, or we turned it over,” Laur said. “We just couldn't quite get the ball where it needed to be.”
The Eagles led 12-11 after one quarter, but trailed 23-21 at halftime. They clawed back from a 21-14 deficit, spurred by a 10-0 spree by the Midgets. JaQuan Adams basket with 3.2 seconds left sent CM into the locker room down by one possession.
The Eagles scratched in front 34-32 with 3:19 to play in the third quarter when Adam Hill hit a trey. They led 38-36 with 1:02 left after Caden Clark's second 3-pointer of the quarter, but a bucket by Bryce Rutledge at the buzzer drew Freeburg even at 38-38.
A trey by David Lane to open the fourth quarter pushed CM in front 41-38 and it would never trail again. By shooting just 1 of 4 from the free throw line in the final minute, the Eagles gave Freeburg an opportunity to tie it, but a late 3-pointer fell short and CM secured the win.
“Third place is really good some years and other years, its eh, but we'll take it,” Carey said. “Third place is better than fourth place tonight. I'd rather be playing in this (championship) game, but we'll take what we got. We've had a pretty good first half of the season and our schedule toughens up in the second half quite a bit, so we're going to have to play better and we will. We will improve and see where it goes in the second half.”
As for Marquette, Boone's clutch trey turned a somewhat sloppy effort into a memorable victory.
“It was very ugly,” Explorers' head coach Steve Medford said. “We didn't rebound very well. We only had five rebounds the entire first half, that's offense and defense. I thought we played really poor and that's probably the most mad I've been at my team since the Triad loss. We haven't had a very good tournament on the defensive end. We challenged them at halftime and they came out and showed a lot of toughness and showed some character.”
Boone's fortunes turned from goat to hero quickly in the fourth quarter.
Waterloo leading scorer Dylan Hunt — 21 points — fouled out when he made contact with Boone beyond the 3-point arc with 31.1 seconds left. The Bulldogs were up 49-46 and Boone had a chance to tie it. Boone hit the first two free throws, but missed the third, leaving the Explorers down 49-48.
Luckily Marquette got the ball back and as the ball ended up in Boone's hands at the top of the key, he confidently tickled the twine as the buzzer sounded and was mobbed by his teammates.
“My teammates knew I had to take the shot, I knew I had to take the shot for us to win the game and I just took it with confidence and it went in,” Boone said. “I'm grateful I got the second chance to make another big shot. I know I should have made the free throw, I don't know how I missed it. I'm just glad I got another shot at it.”
Boone finished with a game-high 30 points. Medford was glad he got the opportunity to take the game-winning shot.
“It came down to Shandon and we have a lot of trust in Shandon and he made a big shot for us,” Medford said.
Early in the game Medford shuffled the lineup, attempting to find the winning formula. Marquette was down 17-16 after one quarter and after Tim Derrington's shot at the 5:14 mark of the second quarter put the Explorers up 22-21, Waterloo went on a 10-0 run to jump ahead 31-22.
A 3-pointer by Reagan Snider and a free throw by Ben Sebacher dwindled it to 31-26 and that's the way it stayed entering the break.
Marquette showed plenty of energy coming out of the break though. Building on Snider and Sebacher's points at the end of the first half, the Explorers strung together a 14-2 spree. Boone nailed a couple treys and Sebacher hit a couple shots inside and with 4:53 to go in the third Marquette owned a 36-33 lead.
“We weren't playing with the energy and the passion we needed to play with,” Medford said. “We're not the most overly talented team out there and we can't be lackadaisical. I thought in the second half we challenged them and they got after it a little more defensively, I thought we got on the boards a lot better, I thought we boxed out better and I thought we played a lot tougher. The results spoke for themselves.”
But when the horn sounded at the close of the third quarter Waterloo's Ben Huels hit a trey to tie it at 40-40.
The Bulldogs went back on top in the fourth and led by as much as 47-42 before the late heroics.
It wasn't the way Medford imagined the tournament going, but the Explorers finished with a 3-1 mark after dropping their opening game to Triad.
“We got three wins in this tournament and our schedule is really back loaded,” Medford said. “We go to the Jersey Tournament, we've got Gibault, we've got Breese Central, Highland, so we've got some tough games and we've got to win some games now. I'm challenging them to grow as a team and this can help us down the stretch.”
Tournament host Columbia earned the title, toppling Triad 48-43 in the finale.
COLUMBIA-FREEBURG HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
MARQUETTE 51, WATERLOO 49
Explorers 16 10 14 11 — 51
Bulldogs 17 14 9 9 — 49
MARQUETTE (9-3) — Trey Aguirre 3, Shandon Boone 30, Reagan Snider 3, Ben Sebacher 8, Tim Derrington 7. 2FG — 12 3FG — 7 FT — 6 PF — 17.
WATERLOO (4-8) — Dylan Hunt 21, Ross Schrader 2, Griffin Lenhardt 7, Ben Huels 15, Tristen Scheider 2, Jackson Ivers 2. 2FG — 14 3FG — 4 FT — 9 PF — 14.
CM 51, FREEBURG 48
Eagles 12 9 17 13 — 51
Midgets 11 12 15 10 — 48
CM (10-3) — Brandon Hampton 10, David Lane 7, Adam Hill 3, Brett Lane 7, JaQuan Adams 15, Jaxsen Helmkamp 3, Caden Clark 6. 2FG — 6 3FG — 9 FT — 12 PF — 9.
FREEBURG (5-8) — Awstin Weber 2, Bryce Rutledge 12, Parker Weiss 3, Will Berger 4, Zach Diecker 10, Hayden Shea 13, Quinn Haug 4. 2FG — 20 3FG — 2 FT — 2 PF — 13.