Carterville survives scare, tops A-J in OT
Lions escape with 59-53 win, Drust's 22 tops all scorers

WEST FRANKFORT - After pulling an upset of the host Redbirds Monday night at the West Frankfort Mid-Winter Classic, coach Scott Burzynski's Carterville Lions were bound to have a bit of a let down in their second contest of the week against Anna-Jonesboro on Wednesday night.

But like all good teams manage to do, the Lions survived on a night where they clearly were not on the top of their game.

Receiving 22-points from Ben Drust, including a 10-of-12 night at the free throw line, Carterville stayed in the hunt for tourney title with a 59-53 overtime victory over the Wildcats.

The win gave the Black Diamond West leaders a 2-0 record in round-robin event and put them in a situation where they can run the table and take home the championship.

Although the game wasn't a Picasso, it mattered little to this coach who saw his clubs' overall record skyrocket to 17-2 on the season.

"We knew coming off of the West Frankfort win that we could have a let down," said Coach Burzynski. "But we responded with a good effort in the overtime and we will take it. We won playing a different style tonight because we had to play their tempo. But we won and I am pleased that we could do it."

Coming into the game Anna-Jonesboro had just a 4-8 overall record.

But as a River-to-River Mississippi Division team that is just now getting healthy from a rash of injuries, they are now wearing the label of a very dangerous team.

They proved it all night to Carterville as the Lions struggled with their adversaries.

The opening quarter set the Anna-Jonesboro tempo, as coach Jim Drew wanted to keep a slower pace by making it more of a half-court game.

A pair of baskets in the first quarter from Chris Hand, a lay in on an assist from Ramehl Macon and a 3-point bomb from the left wing gave the Wildcats a 9-8 lead with 2:01 left in the stanza.

However Carterville's Drust scored the last five points of the quarter.

He nailed a mid-range shot from the left wing and then canned a 3-pointer at the top of the arc while coming off of a screen to give the Lions a 12-9 lead at the first horn.

Following a pair of 'in the paint' baskets by Andrew Martin and another in close shot Jake McCann that made it 18-13 Carterville, A-J stormed back to tie the contest.

A 3-pointer from Jimmy Drew and a basket by Macon evened the score at 18.

Trevor Poore and B.J. Thompson both scored late in the second quarter to give the lead back to Carterville at 26-22.

Macon however continued to be a thorn in the Lions' paws as he connected from behind the arc just before the buzzer sending both teams to the locker rooms at 26-25 Carterville.

"We looked a little bit sluggish tonight but Anna-Jonesboro had a lot to do with that," added Burzynski. "I told the guys in the locker room I don't care how you get the win as long as you get the win."

If the first half pace was pedestrian, the third quarter resembled a baby's first steps.

Both teams managed to miss a lot of shots and the game got sloppy.

Carterville was just 3-for-10 from the field while A-J dropped down with them at 3-for-9.

Drust closed out the quarter with another 3-pointer to give his squad a 34-33 lead heading to the final frame.

A-J held the ball for the 1:13 but Chris Sanders lay in attempt went 'in-and-out' at the horn.

Carterville got into the double-bonus early in the fourth quarter and made the Wildcat pay when they toed the line. The Lions made 9-of-12 free throws in the final eight minutes but that wasn't enough to keep A-J from coming back to tie the game.

Coach Burzynski's team appeared to have the game in hand with less than two minutes to play but Anna-Jonesboro rallied with two big 3-point shots.

After Carterville's Drust broke a 41-all tie with a drive to the basket and later a pair of charities, Hand and Macon both connected from long range.

In fact Macon scored the Wildcats' last two baskets.

First on a drive to the hoop with :12.2 left, and after Shawn Lantagne made 1-of-2 from the line, Macon rushed down the floor against Carterville pressure and launched a desperation 3-pointer that hit the mark to even the score at 49-all with :04 remaining in regulation.

Carterville had a chance to win the game with a final possession, but Drust's off-balanced shot misfired at the buzzer sending the teams to an extra session.

Unfortunately for A-J and Coach Drew his team was visibly wore out by the time the extra four minutes started.

Missing shots and forced to foul, A-J sent the Lions to the stripe.

The lone bright spot for the 'Cats was another Hand mid-range score and a steal and lay in on an offensive rebound by David Sanders.

Carterville however staked a claim at the free throw line and hit 8-of-10 attempts to earn the victory.

"We've won a couple of close ones and we've lost a couple of close ones," Coach Drew said. "The kids are playing at the level they need to be playing at. We are starting to get healthy and we are playing better defensively."

Anna-Jonesboro simply missed too many shots as they connected on just 17-of-47 attempts (36 percent) while the Lions were much better at 19-of-39 (49 percent) for the game.

Both teams play again on Friday with Carterville matching up with Eldorado at 6 pm followed by Anna-Jonesboro and West Frankfort at 7:30 pm.


Anna-Jonesboro (53) - Macon 4 2 5-11 19, Drew 1 2 3-3 11, C. Sanders 1 0 3-3 5, Hand 4 1 0-0 14, D. Sanders 1 0 0-0 2, Pengress 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-12, 3FG-5, FT-11-17, PF-
Carterville (59) - Bleyer 1 0 2-2 4, Drust 3 2 10-12 22, Thompson 1 0 0-0 2, Poore 2 0 3-4 7, Lantagne 3 1 2-4 11, Lloyd 1 0 0-0 2, Martin 4 0 1-1 9, McCann
2FG-16, 3FG-3 FT-18-25, PR-17.

Fouled Out - C. Sanders, Anna-Jonesboro.
Technical Fouls - None.