Carterville edges Eagles
Downen hits last second shot, Lions win in OT, 67-65

– If you wanted to see a great game to open up an invitational tournament, you couldn't have picked a better one than the contest on Saturday night at West Frankfort.

The matchup between Carterville and Eldorado featured 17 tie scores and 10 lead changes in what turned out to be 36 minutes of play.

In the end, the Lions were the ones who celebrated the tough 67-65 overtime win over the Eagles as the 33rd annual event commenced on a wintry night in Franklin County.

Carterville's Eli Downen got his team the victory as he broke the game's final deadlock with a tough jumper in the lane, with an Eldorado defender in his face, that found the mark with just :01.2 left.

The Eagles, after a timeout, got off a beyond half-court shot by sophomore Bryant Byrd that fell short as the final horn sounded on a splendid contest.

Head coach Shane Hawkins got two players in double-figures in points; 6-foot-1 junior Austin Garbe led all scorers with 24-points while Downen, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, finished with 19.

“When we called time out we had a man call and a zone call (plays) but sometimes you have to make a basketball play. End of the quarter, end of a game, sometimes you just have to make a play. Bryce (Anderson) attacked the gap and made the right kick (pass) to get it to Eli. He took a dribble or two into the lane, he didn't go to deep or try to get to the basket. He got it to go in. This is a good win for our guys,” said Coach Hawkins. “That is a good basketball team over there (Eldorado). We will take it.”

Eldorado got 18-points from 6-foot-3 senior Joe Mayberry along with 16-points from 6-foot-4 sophomore Aiden Whitlock.

Byrd, a 6-foot guard, added 14-points for Coach Josh Bradley's club that saw its record slip to 13-6 on the season and 0-1 in Pool A of the pool play event.

The Eagles, the defending tournament champions, will face an up hill battle to get to the championship game again after the tough defeat.

Carterville is now 9-10 overall on the year and 1-0 in the tournament.

Statistically speaking, this game was just as close as the final score.

Carterville was a potent 28-of-51 overall from the floor, nailing 54.9 percent of their field goal attempts.

Eldorado was at 52 percent (25-of-48) from the field.

Most of the damage done by the two teams was from inside the arc.

These two combatants combined to shoot 60.8 percent from two-point range (45-of-74).

The largest lead by either team was seven-points, by Eldorado, while the Lions biggest advantage came in the opening minutes as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead with Downen scoring on a shot in the lane while being fouled (And-1) and a cut to the basket by senior Dylan Moore, who ended up with nine-points on the night.

Four of the even scores in the battle were in the opening frame as Byrd hit the first of his four 3-pointers and Whitlock scored three times in a quarter that ended tied at 13-all.

Despite some early turnovers by each team, the game flowed offensively for its entirety.

The two clubs traded baskets on six-consecutive trips to begin the second quarter as both teams struggled in defensive containment.

Offensively the eight minute frame was exquisite, with both teams getting loose for open shots with a high conversion rate.

Five-foot-eight sophomore guard Bryce Anderson scored three times in the quarter for the Lions.

Twice he converted drives to the basket and he also added a 3-point bomb to forge yet another tie score, 26-26, with 3:03 left before halftime.

Mayberry caused problems for the Carterville defense.

He knocked down a pair of shots on a drive to the basket and then a shot from the right wing.

He capped off the half by nailing a 3-pointer off of an inbounds pass that beat the second quarter buzzer for a 31-28 halftime lead for Eldorado.

“I thought we let Mayberry (and Whitlock) catch it way too easy (open) and Mayberry is a tough match up,” said Coach Hawkins. “He is a tough to defend.”

If you were going to search for the best opportunity to get a clear cut win by either team, it was Eldorado and their third quarter beginning.

Two 3-point bombs by Byrd, one each from each side of the floor, gave Coach Bradley's club a 37-30 advantage with 6:48 left in the third.

However Coach Hawkins saw his Lions respond to rally for a 44-43 lead at the end of the stanza.

Moore, Garbe and Downen all produced points in a run that tied the game at 39-all.

Moore get open for a shot in the lane and Garbe netted a shot off of an out-of-bounds play.

Downen evened things with a 3-pointer from the left side of the floor with 3:30 left.

Eldorado got Byrd's third trey of the quarter to take back the lead briefly.

But junior guard Carson Pearson scored his only two points of the game and a pair of free throws by Garbe gave the Lions their one-point lead heading to the fourth.

Eight more minutes did nothing to separate this two squads.

The Eagles had the best opportunity of the two teams to get the win in regulation but they missed four of their free throws (9-of-14 overall for the game) in the fourth quarter.

Eldorado did have the final chance in regulation, with the ball at mid-court for an inbounds play with just :03.8 remaining with the game even at 57-apiece.

The Eagles got the look that they wanted at the basket and a chance for the win.

An inbounds lob pass found Whitlock in the lane.

But his turn around shot with his left hand missed the mark as the two teams would need extra time to decide the outcome.

How good was the overtime session?

Each missed one field goal attempt, as they were a combined 9-of-11.

Eldorado had four leads with buckets by junior Lydayyea Shewmaker, Whitlock and Mayberry, twice.

Carterville got three baskets by Garbe and Anderson also scored in the paint.

Garbe's rebound bucket forged the last tie score of the game at 65-all with just :49 remaining in OT.

Eldorado had the ball working their offense when they turned it over on the right sideline which gave the Lions a final shot.

After Coach Hawkins took a timeout with :14.1 left, they got the ball eventually into the lane for Downen.

The sophomore, with Mayberry defending, arched the ball up and in to give the Lions the important tournament triumph.

“We got a hand in his face at the end but he (Downen) made the shot,” said Coach Bradley.

If you were going to find an Achilles' heel for Eldorado it was turnovers as the Eagles committed 16 compared to 10 from the Lions.

Eldorado held a slight 20-17 rebounding edge in a tough loss.

Both teams have more work to do in the tournament.

The Eagles play Christopher on Tuesday night at 8:30 pm for their next contest while Carterville will play the host Redbirds on Wednesday night at 8:30 pm.

“It came down to we had to make a defensive play at the end of regulation to get it to overtime and sometimes you just make one more play than the opponent and you get lucky,” said Coach Hawkins.

Carterville (67) – Stritzel 1 0 0-0 2, Anderson 3 1 0-0 9, Hawkins 0 0 0-0 0, Bittle 1 0 0-0 2, Garbe 9 0 6-6 24, Moore 4 0 1-2 9, Pearson 1 0 0-0 2, Downen 7 1 2-3 19.
2FG-26, 3FG-2, FT-9-11, PF-14.

Eldorado (65) – Whitlock 7 0 2-2 16, Mayberry 6 2 0-0 18, Jenkins 1 0 3-5 5, Byrd 0 4 2-3 14, Shewmaker 3 0 2-4 8, Barton 2 0 0-0 4.
2FG-19 3FG-6, FT-9-14, PF-14.

Fouled Out –None.
Technical Fouls – None.