ALTON – Jacob Fischer saved his best for last Friday night. So did the rest of the Marquette Catholic High Explorers.
They used a strong fourth quarter to defeat visiting Mascoutah, 51-47, in a nonconference boys' basketball game. Marquette, overturning a 10-point halftime deficit, improved to 13-4 heading into Saturday’s Jersey Tournament. Mascoutah is 6-11.
“I think this win gives us some momentum going into the tournament at Jerseyville,” said Fischer, a 6-foot-4 senior. “We’re trying to get 20 wins this season.”
Fischer scored just six points, but all came in the decisive final quarter. He sank four free throws in the closing 12 seconds to help Marquette defeat its fourth Mississippi Valley Conference team this season. The Explorers have also beaten Waterloo, Jersey and split two games with Civic Memorial.
“This win is right up there with any one we have had this season,” Explorers’ coach Steve Medford said. “We have a resilient group of kids. They are tough-nosed and we made some plays down the stretch. We stayed pretty composed and Fischer came up big for us when we needed it.”
The same could be said for teammates Shandon Boone and Ben Sebacher. Boone scored a game-high 19 points and turned things Marquette’s way on a four-point play with 3:53 to play. Sebacher punched in 13 points.
The Explorers trailed 38-35 before Boone’s big play gave them a one-point lead.
“It’s a big win for us and we have a little momentum going,” said Boone, a 5-8 junior. “We really hunkered down on defense in the second half.”
Mascoutah used an 11-0 binge the final 2.5 minutes of the first half to enjoy a 27-17 advantage at the break. Then Marquette responded with the first 10 points of the second half and it was anybody’s game.
“They (Explorers) have a good team and we had a chance to win it, but we had a couple of breakdowns,” Mascoutah coach Cody Reynolds said. “They also hit their free throws late in the game and Boone hurt us. He’s a good player and he can score in a lot of ways.”
Reynolds was right about the Explorers’ accuracy at the foul line. They converted 13 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter and 19 of 25 overall. Boone made all five of his foul shots in the fourth quarter while Sebacher and freshman Reagan both were 2-for-2 there.
Then there was Fischer delivering in the clutch. His first two free throws with 11.8 seconds to go extended Marquette’s lead to 47-44. Fewer than five seconds later, he made two more, giving the Explorers a five-point edge.
Tim Parks of Mascoutah connected on a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game, but Boone’s pair of foul shots with 1.1 seconds left ensured the Explorers’ win.
“I was just hoping to make free throws and I zoned everything else out,” Fischer said of his focus. “It helped to build my confidence after I made the first two.”
Medford said, “I’m really proud of the kids. I think a win like this will give us a boost and put a bounce in our step. When you win close games like we have done, it gives you a lot of confidence.”
The Explorers will be bouncing about Jerseyville the next seven days. They meet Pittsfield in a 5:30 game Saturday at Jersey. They will play Quincy Notre Dame on Monday, Collinsville on Wednesday, Cahokia on Friday and the host Panthers next Saturday (Jan. 24) at Havens Gym.
Chris Simmons, a 6-1 senior, led Mascoutah with 16 points. He hit four 3-pointers. The Indians made 17 field goals, nine of them treys. Thomas Trumbull added 12 points.
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 51, MASCOUTAH 47
Mascoutah 8 19 7 13 – 47
Marquette 10 7 14 20 – 51
Mascoutah (6-11) – Tim Parks 9, Chris Simmons 16, Brian Pettiford 4, Thomas Trumbull 12, Alex Dauber 1, Ethan Mayberry 5. 2FG-8 3FG-9 FT-4 PF-20
Marquette (13-4) – Shandon Boone 19, Jacob Fischer 6, Max Goepel 9, Ben Sebacher 13, Reagan Snider 4. 2FG-13 3FG-2 FT-19 PF-15