Goreville reaches sectional final
Webb leads Blackcats past Webber Township; 58-50

ELIZABETHTOWN – The beginning of the 1A Hardin County Sectional semifinal game on Tuesday could not have worse for the Goreville Blackcats.

If the first quarter and a half were a disaster movie, it would have been “Titanic.”

Fortunately for Coach Todd Tripp and his club, there was a player who stepped up with a postseason “life preserver.”

Senior guard Braden Webb led a defensive effort that turned into an offensive “tidal wave” of points in the second half.

Goreville moved into “uncharted waters” with the 58-50 victory as this boy's basketball program, even with all of its success in the past, had never reached a sectional title game.

Webb, the school's all-time scoring leader, topped all scorers on this night with 23.

However his two huge defensive plays in the fourth quarter got the Blackcats into the Sweet 16 of the 1A state tournament.

His steal and fast break score with 1:28 left in the game (see photo) gave Goreville back the lead for good and he added an assist for a transition score after another Webber turnover to help seal the win.

Coach Tripp's troops are now 21-11 on the season and they have a date set for Friday night in the sectional championship game after rallying from 17-points down.

“He (Webb) has done it offensively for four years but he also plays hard defense. To come up with two key defensive plays like that it shows what a complete player he is,” said Coach Tripp. “He plays hard. He doesn't sit down for us, he plays 32-minutes, he's a gamer. Massey stepped up and hit some free throws at the end helped keep that lead for us.”

Morgan Bishop, a senior guard, added 10-points for the Blackcats, while Peyton Massey added nine-points, with his best “place” on the night being at the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Massey canned 6-of-6 in the final :44.4 of the fourth, which capped the comeback for a Blackcats' team that got on a roll at the right time of the season.

Webber Township saw its season close on a sour note at 20-9 for Coach Brad Beaty and his six seniors, who had accomplished so much in four-years of varsity basketball for the Trojans' program.

Senior forward Charles Neal closed his prep career with 18-points to top the Trojans senior guard Dylan Stratton ended his run with 12.

Senior Brody Mount and sophomore Kaiden Taylor tossed in six-points each.

“I've been around this (sport) a lot time. Nobody loses a sectional game, somebody wins it. Goreville won the game tonight. I thought we competed but we just got a little rattled,” said Coach Beaty. “I told the guys 'I love the fight you guys had in you all season' and we could have easily laid down after some of the games we dropped. But we didn't. We got right back up and got on a roll.”

The Trojans jumped out to a quick lead at the beginning of the contest but they failed to sustain their early good play for four quarter.

Defensively they forced six first quarter Goreville turnovers and they got a pair of 3-pointers by Stratton and senior Dalton Hart.

A conventional three-point play by Neal on a drive to the basket closed the frame at 19-9 Webber Township.

Sophomore Dylan Adcock had one field goal on the night, but is was a big 3-pointer that was part of a 7-0 second quarter beginning.

Two free throws by Mount and a bucket by Taylor gave Webber Township its largest lead at 26-9 with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter.

At this point of the game, Goreville had the same amount of turnovers (9) as it did points.

The good news for Coach Tripp was that his kids put together a rally to close the gap to 30-21 at intermission.

“I felt like we could press them and they (Webber) don't play a whole lot of guys and we felt like we could get them tired at the end,” said Coach Tripp. “It was a maximum effort by our guys. Their heads were up in the locker room, they weren't down about it (halftime deficit) and they were ready to go in the second half.”

Webb scored twice in the final minutes of the frame and Bishop got a bucket while being fouled by Stratton with 3:15 left.

His conventional three-point play cut the margin down to 26-14.

But more importantly the foul sent Stratton to the bench with his third personal.

With one of his top guards sitting next to him on the pine, Coach Beaty saw his team struggle handling the ball as Goreville broke out its press.

Massey hit his only field goal of the game, a long 3-pointer from the left wing and Webb's drive to basket cut the lead down to just nine at the half.

“You know what? I'm proud of our guys for not hanging their heads. We got off to the worst start imaginable. But we hung in there. We got down and we got it to nine at halftime,” said Coach Tripp. “I told the guys 'we can make up nine-points in two quarters' and for us we feel like we can do that. We felt like we could press them.”

As bad as the opening minutes were for Goreville in the first quarter, it was an equally bad beginning of the second half for the Trojans.

Webber hit just 1-of-8 shots to start the second half while the Blackcats cut deeper into their deficit.

A 10-2 run, sparked by a pair of scores from senior Cole Tosh and two more baskets by Webb, closed the gap to just 32-29.

A bank shot in the lane by Goreville's Logyn Frassato and a Webb 3-point bomb gave the Blackcats their first lead of the game.

Neal, who scored five-points in the quarter, closed out the third with drive that sent the teams into the final countdown at 37-36 Trojans.

It looked like Coach Beaty and his team had weathered the worst part of the storm and were going to finish out the game with a win.

They got their lead back to three points on four different times during the first 5:35 of the fourth quarter but they couldn't shake away from the 'Cats.

Neal scored six points on a field goal and 4-of-4 free throws while Taylor and Stratton each produced made field goals for a 47-44 lead with 2:25 remaining.

But at this point, the game turned in the Blackcats' favor.

Having just one turnover in the second half at that point, Webber proceeded to cough up four turnovers in the last 1:34 of the game.

This triggered a 14-3 game closing run that got Goreville into the sectional finale.

Webb was the catalyst with his two steals Massey took care of the rest from the charity stripe.

Goreville ended up 21-of-44 from the floor (47.7 percent) but were just 3-of-14 from the arc.

However the Blackcats held a 24-17 rebounding advantage, which included nine offensive rebounds.

After 10 first half turnovers, Coach Tripp's club committed just three in the second half.

Webber Township closed out its season with an 18-of-43 night (42.8) and just 4-of-11 from the 3-point line.

“For about 90 seconds (in the final quarter) we lost our composure and when you do that against Goreville you're going to pay,” said Coach Beaty. “And you can't do that,k especially when number 12 (Webb) is on the floor. When he sees (a team struggling) it's like 'blood in the water' and if you don't flood the lane and try to play him one-on-one, he is going to get to the rim and he is going to get your guy in foul trouble. He is a great player.”

Goreville will face either Sesser-Valier or Cairo in the sectional title game.

That semifinal game is set for Wednesday night.

The Blackcats and Red Devils are familiar foes from being in the same conference.

Sesser-Valier won both conference games this season while the Blackcats edges S-V, 65-63, in the championship game of the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament back in December.

Cairo and Goreville didn't play this season.

Webber closed its season with several highlights, including a Wayne City Holiday Tournament championship and 20-wins.

Friday's win over Christopher marked the third regional championship in boy's basketball for this school located in the eastern part of Jefferson County.

“We had a really good first half. But you knew that Goreville was coming. They (Coach Tripp and his program) have been in this situation many times,” said Coach Beaty. “He hasn't won that many games in these sort of situations without being able to make adjustments. You tip your hat to them. I'm proud of our guys. Goreville was the better team tonight in the fourth quarter.”

Webber Township
Goreville (58) – Geyman 1 0 0-0 2, Massy 0 1 6-6 9, Webb 8 2 1-6 23, Bishop 2 0 6-7 10, Frassato 2 0-0 4, Tosh 3 0 0-0 6, Dunn 2 0 0-0 4, Glidewell 0 0 0-0 0, Albright 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-18, 3FG-3, FT-13-19, PF-11.

Webber Township (50) – Thompson 0 0 0-0 0, Stratton 3 2 0-0 12, Neal 6 0 6-7 18, Taylor 3 0 0-0 6, Hart 0 1 0-0 3, Mount 2 0 2-2 6, Adcock 0 1 2-2 5, Davis 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-14, 3FG-4, FT-10-11, PF-20.

Fouled Out – None
Technical Fouls – None.