PIASA – Chance Foss gave the Roxana Shells a second chance Thursday night.
And the Shells took advantage of their additional opportunity by defeating Gillespie, 57-47, in an overtime semifinal game of the Class 2A Southwestern Boys' Basketball Regional.
Foss hit a shot to tie things at a key juncture late in the fourth quarter and then scored 7 of Roxana’s 13 points in the OT. The 15-15 Shells play top-seeded Southwestern, 21-6, at 7 p.m. Friday for the regional championship. Gillespie finished 18-10.
“Foss turned the game around,” Miners’ coach Casey Sholtis said of the 5-foot-8 junior guard.
Roxana coach Mark Briggs noted, “Chance has learned to play through adversity and he hung in there tonight. He’s always hustling.”
It was Foss’ trey – his first points of the game – that knotted it at 44-44 with 1:35 to play in regulation. The score remained the same going into the extra session.
Then the Shells really went to work in beating the Miners for the second time this season. Foss hit a basket and sank five of six free throws and finished with 10 points. Teammates Trace Gentry added four of his game-high 24 points in the OT. Gentry connected on six 3-pointers overall.
“It came down to how much we wanted to win the game,” Foss said of the Shells’ late lightning. “I always want the ball in my hands and I think that four minutes of overtime is as well as I have played this season.
Foss added, “It was do-or-die for us and we didn’t want to go home. We didn’t want it to be the last game for the seniors.”
Gentry managed to lead all point producers even though he was nursing a strained groin.
“Trace didn’t practice all week,” Briggs said. “We wanted to give him some rest for his groin to heal and he played like a champ. He’s our 'go-to' guy and leader.”
Zach Golenor pitched in eight points, including two of Roxana’s 10 treys. Teammate Blake Vandiver contributed nine points, seven in the first half. The Shells made 20 of 52 shots, or 38 percent.
Gillespie had three players score in double figures, but the Miners made only 17 of 59 shots, or 28 percent. Nick Price (13 points), Jacob Alepra (11 points) and 6-5 Quentin Zenner (10 points) paced them. Price connected on a trio of treys.
“We had a seven-point lead (37-30) in the third quarter, but then we missed opportunities to extend it,” Sholtis said. "We had some good looks at the basket, but we didn't do it."
The Miners used a 10-0 spree to build their seven-point advantage three minutes into the third quarter. Then the Shells countered with a nine-point run and it played out as a see-saw game until the overtime.
“Our kids hung in there and we really battled all the way,” Briggs said. “They handled adversity so much better in this game.”
Gentry’s 12 first-half points, thanks to four treys, kept Roxana within striking of Gillespie. The Miners led 27-26 at half and 37-36 after three quarter. Curiously, the Shells scored 18 points the second half, then logged 13 in OT.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and we came back in the second half,” Gentry said “Chance really did a great job.”
Foss missed a 3-pointer right before the end of regulation, but that didn’t deter him or the Shells. They converted seven of eight free throws in overtime to pull away from the Miners. Roxana was 0-for-2 from the foul line until the OT.
“We kept playing hard and we never stopped hustling,” Foss said.
Briggs knows the Shells need to be at their best against host Southwestern, which defeated Roxana, 66-55 at Piasa on Feb. 10. Friday’s winner advances to next week’s East Alton-Wood River Sectional at Memorial Gym.
“We’re excited about being in the championship game and getting an opportunity to play for a regional title,” he said.
CLASS 2A SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL
ROXANA 57, GILLESPIE 47, OT
Gillespie 17 10 10 7 (3) – 47
Roxana 16 10 10 8 (13) – 57
Gillespie (18-10) – Eli Fox 5, Quentin Zenner 10, Nick Price 13, Jacob Alepra 11, Evan Price 6, John Friese 2. 2FG-17 3FG-5 FT-10 PF-15
Roxana (15-15) – Trace Gentry 24, Chance Foss 10, Randy Skiff 6, Zach Golenor 8, Blake Vandiver 9. 2FG-10 3FG-10 FT-7 PF-10