DUPO — Reagan Snider gave the Marquette Catholic Explorers the signature shot they needed Friday night.
It propelled them past the Roxana Shells and into next week’s Class 2A Pinckneyville Sectional.
Snider’s 3-point basket with 32 seconds remaining in overtime pushed the Explorers one point ahead of the Shells. Shandon Boone then added a basket just before the buzzer and Marquette secured a 48-45 victory in the championship game of the Dupo Regional.
“It’s the biggest shot of my career,” said Snider, a 6-foot sophomore guard who scored 14 points. “I saw an opening at the top of the key, so I took it.”
Roxana coach Mark Briggs pointed out, “If Snider misses that shot, the game is over.”
The Shells had forged ahead 45-43 when Zach Golenor sank two free throws with 49 seconds remaining. Yet Snider’s decisive basket sent the 21-9 Explorers into sectional play. They’ll meet 26-5 Breese Central at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Nashville and host Pinckneyville will clash at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the other sectional semifinal.
“It’s a great win for us,” Marquette coach Steve Medford said. “Reagan isn’t afraid to take those kinds of shots and Shandon Boone came to life for us in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“But Coach Briggs did an excellent job of preparing for this game and they battled us to the end. They deserved to win tonight,” Medford said of the Shells.
Briggs said, “Our kids are warriors and they play with a lot of pride. I thought we let this game slip through our fingers. We were up by 6 points in the fourth quarter and they (Explorers) came back on us.
“We should have gotten it done.”
Both teams had ample opportunities to win it before the 4-minute overtime. Marquette led 17-3 early in the second quarter when Roxana couldn’t buy a basket. The Shells made only 1 of their first 11 shots.
“We came out a little jittery, but then we settled down,” Briggs said.
Golenor (15 points) and Blake Vandiver (12 points) spurred the Shells. Chance Foss supplied some strong defensive work on Boone and the Shells climbed back into the game despite foul troubles to top gun Trace Gentry. He scored 6 points before fouling out with 15.9 seconds to play.
They trailed 20-13 at half, then jumped in front for the first time at 22-21 midway through the second quarter. Roxana led 27-25 after three quarters.
The Shells stretched their lead to 31-25 with 6:15 to go and held a 33-27 advantage with 3:10 remaining.
“You could feel the energy and intensity on the floor,” Boone said of the hard-fought game. “I didn’t know if we could pull out a win.”
He ignited the Explorers with back-to-back treys and set the stage for a frantic finish. The Shells grabbed a 38-36 lead with less than a minute to play, but Boone’s layup with 15.9 seconds remaining forced an overtime. Boone finished with a game-best 16 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Boone, Snider and Ben Sebacher combined for all of Marquette’s OT points. Sebacher, a 6-5 senior, finished with nine points.
Boone’s layup to complete the scoring came on a long pass from Trey Aguirre.
Yet without Snider’s 3-pointer to give them the lead, the Explorers may not have survived. Overall, he made 4 of 10 shots, including a pair of treys.
Snider said, “It was really an intense game and it’s awesome to be going to the sectional.”
Marquette, which made 16 of 36 shots, including 8 treys, will get a rematch with Breese Central, which edged the Explorers, 38-36, on Feb. 19 in Alton.
And Roxana, bowing to Marquette for the second time this season, closed at 20-11.
“I can’t say enough about what our seniors meant to this program,” Briggs said, referring to Vandiver, Gentry and Foss. Juniors Golenor, Zach Haas and 6-5 Cody McMillen could serve as the key returners for next season.
“Zach had a nice game and Chance did a great job on Boone,” Briggs said. “Our kids save their best for last and played their hearts out. They gave everything they had. I’m so proud of the seniors because their group won 79 games, and a couple of regional titles, since they were freshmen.”
CLASS 2A DUPO REGIONAL
MARQUETTE 48, ROXANA 45, OT
Roxana 3 10 14 11 (7) — 45
Marquette 10 10 5 13 (10) — 48
Roxana (20-11) — Trace Gentry 6, Zach Golenor 15, Blake Vandiver 12, Chance Foss 6, Zach Haas 2, Cody McMillen 4. 2FG-8 3FG-7 FT-8 PF-13
Marquette (21-9) — Shandon Boone 16, Trey Aguirre 4, Ben Sebacher 9, Reagan Snider 14, Nick Messinger 3, Chris Hartrich 2. 2FG-8 3FG-8 FT-8 PF-16