Photo by Caleb Motsinger
Cut: Seniors Charlie Sheets and Matt Hartnett hug in the final minutes of Friday night's loss to Greenville in the regional championship at East Alton-Wood River High School. The two combined for over thirty points per game this season.
As Roxana seniors Charlie Sheets, Matt Hartnett and Jordan Brown walked off the basketball court at the end of their final high school game, head coach Mark Briggs embraced each departing player for a job well done.
“All of our seniors did their jobs this season,” Briggs said. “Sheets and Hartnett both had great careers; their effort and leadership is going to be hard to replace.”
The Shells may have bowed 57-38 to conference rival Greenville in the title game, but they ended their season Friday just one shy of a 20-win season. With their heads held high, the Shells walked off the court at 19-11 after losing to the Comets in the Class 2A boys’ regional at East Alton-Wood River High School.
This was the third time the Comets had beaten the Shells this season.
“Tonight was a tough night for us because we missed a lot of close-range shots,” Briggs added. “We didn’t shoot well at the free throw line either, and we really struggled throughout the second half. We just dug ourselves a hole that was tough to get out of.”
Sheets and Hartnett, who averaged 17 and 15 points per game each, were held to only 10 points.
It was a low-scoring affair for both teams, and at the end of the first quarter the Shells had only scored 11 points.
With the score at 14-11 going into the second quarter, the Comets used a smothering defensive to make a statement early on: It may be tough to beat a good team three times, but it can be done.
Greenville junior Craig Faulkner scored eight of 16 points in the second to put the Comets up 16-15 going into halftime and they were able to build on it out of the gate going into the second half.
“Defensively, I thought we were everywhere,” Greenville coach Todd Cantrill said. “We didn’t give Roxana anything easy and we made them work for everything.”
This is Cantrill’s 16th year at Greenville and his third regional championship, winning their last in 2009.
The Comets' roster is loaded with juniors going into the Vandalia sectional.
“Our kids deserve a lot of credit; we’re mostly juniors, and we’ve gotten a lot better throughout the year,” Cantrill said. “We executed the game plan perfectly tonight.”
One of the big difference makers for Greenville late in the game was free throws. They made 10 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter, including four straight after a technical foul late in the fourth.
The Comets were led by Faulkner’s 16 points, followed by Will Schaufelberger with 11 and Devon Leitschuh with eight.
Sheets and Hartnett each led the Shells with 10 points, with Trace Gentry contributing seven.
The Comets will be back in action Wednesday at the Vandalia Sectional, facing off against another conference rival, Carlinville, who they have already beaten once this season.