Sesser-Valier takes sectional title
Seth Boles scores 23-points; Red Devils roll past rival Woodlawn, 55-39

– Over 2,000 fans packed into Gallatin County High School Friday night for the sectional championship game between long time rivals and top notch programs Sesser-Valier and Woodlawn; with a trip to the Carbondale 1A Supersectional on the line.

The overflowing crowd was anticipating an epic postseason matchup between two clubs that had played an overtime game back on January 29th at Woodlawn.

Two of the top scorers in the ABV Deep South were again matched up.

Sesser-Valier senior Tyler Winchester and Woodlawn junior Blake McKay both came in averaging over 20-points a contest.

The two teams seemed headed towards another classic.

Unfortunately the showdown never materialized.

Sesser-Valier's stingy defense and 6-foot-3 senior forward Seth Boles took care of the offensive business and the Red Devils rolled to an early lead as they delivered a crushing 55-39 defeat to their rivals.

Boles tossed in a game-best 23-points, including three back breaking 3-pointers during a second quarter 15-2 run that gave Sesser-Valier a 30-15 halftime lead.

Because of Boles offensive barrage, and a frustrating shutdown effort against McKay and the rest of the Cardinals, the Red Devils have reached their third 1A supersectional following a 55-39 win.

“Holy Cow. The dude just came out on fire. Seth is such a unique kid. And he just came out firing. He is a senior that stepped up playing in a sectional championship,” said Coach Garner. “We didn't know that we would come out and shoot the ball the way we did.”

Woodlawn saw its season end at the hands of the Red Devils, again.

The Cardinals are now 0-5 against Sesser-Valier in the postseason since the state went to four-classes in 2007-08.

“There is a lot to be said about watching kids come out to play. Because that (performance) had nothing to do with me. It was just 'dudes going out and being dudes' and making plays, hitting big shots,” said Coach Garner. “Hats off to Tyler Winchester, Eli Gunter and Tanner Eubanks. Not many teams have three guys that we can rotate and defend a caliber of player that Blake McKay is. He is a special player. And I thought our three dudes stepped up and took charge the best they could. Everyone else was spot on on their assignments.”

Coach Brian Gamber and his Cardinals dropped out of the postseason at 26-6.

After spotting Woodlawn a quick basket, the Red Devils took off and never looked back as they, too, are sitting at 26-6.

But while the Cardinals head home to prepare for spring sports, the Red Devils will head to SIU Arena on Tuesday night with ABV top-ranked Moweaqua Central A&M at 6 pm.

The Raiders edged Nokomis for the second consecutive year in winning the 1A Altamont Sectional, 63-57 on Friday night.

Central A&M will make its second trip in as many years to Carbondale as the winner of the Tuesday night contest will head to the state finals.

Winchester added 16-points to the totals for Sesser-Valier while five other Red Devils combined for the other 16-points.

Boles led the Red Devils to an impressive first half, as Coach Shane Garner got his club fired up and motivated early as they took control just minutes into the title tilt.

McKay was held to 11-points as he and sophomore Jackson Tiemann led the Cardinals with 11-points each.

McKay got into early foul trouble and he ended up fouling out in the fourth quarter.

“He (McKay) had three or four looks early in the game that didn't go in and then #34 (Boles) goes nuts and makes every shot he takes from three. Now you are playing uphill and then we get into foul trouble,” said Coach Gamber. “He (McKay) picks up a couple of cheap ones (fouls) and now he is out of the game. It obviously changes who we are offensively and defensively. We were never able to get into a flow. A lot of it was them, they guard hard, but a lot of it was we missed some clean looks early.”

While Tiemann made back-to-back 3-pointers to close the first quarter and begin the second, McKay wouldn't score his first field goal until just under four minutes were left in the third quarter.

After the second trey from Tiemann, Winchester and Boles went to work.

A score inside by Winchester and then consecutive 3-point bombs from Boles just a few seconds apart forced Coach Gamber to call a timeout down 25-11 with 4:17 left until halftime.

Woodlawn senior Jake Martin finished with eight-points, including a bucket to stop the run briefly in the second quarter.

Freshman guard Gavin Woodland got in the act for the Red Devils with a score on a drive to the basket.

Then Boles canned yet another 3-pointer, this one from the top of the arc, for a 30-13 spread.

“This was an awesome performance from our whole team, the coaching staff, and our community rallies around us,” said Seth Boles. “It is always a big game against them (Woodlawn). It's a big rivalry and this is an awesome environment to play in.”

Woodlawn's Aaron Spangler closed out the half with a basket as the Cardinals were in major trouble at 30-15.

The Cardinals were just 6-of-19 from the field and committed five turnovers in a disastrous first two quarters.

“We wanted to come out and make them miss some shots and make sure they were 'one and done' and we hit some shots early,” said Coach Garner. “When you can come out and do both of those things this is the kind of outcome you will get.”

Sesser-Valier was 12-of-18 overall and 7-of-7 on two-point shots in the first 16 minutes.

Woodlawn needed to make a move in the third quarter to try and cut into the lead.

But not one time in the second half did the Cardinals make a run.

Every score was answered by the Red Devils.

McKay finally found the mark on a 3-pointer late in the third quarter but it was quickly answered by buckets by Boles and reserve Garrett Gunter.

Gunter took a pass in transition from Boles for a lay in and a 42-23 lead with 1:58 left in the third.

McKay got a shot from the baseline to fall to close the gap to 17-points heading to the fourth quarter.

Frustration mounted for Woodlawn in the final quarter as Spangler was whistled for a charging foul, which turned into a technical foul against him.

The fouls were his fourth and fifth as he went to the bench with 7:18 left.

The Cardinals got to within 45-32 with 5:20 to go after junior guard Chase Hollenkamp nailed a 3-pointer.

Then Winchester grabbed a second free throw miss from Gunter and he was fouled on the play.

His two free throws, two free throws by junior guard Peyton Bates and a transition score by Boles off a steal by Woodland and then an assist from Winchester made it 51-32.

The Red Devils ran clock and finished off the Cardinals from the foul line, making four-straight with Winchester and Bates doing the shooting.

Woodlawn reserve Ryan Rynski hit a late 3-pointer to cut the final margin down to 16.

Sesser-Valier ended up a spectacular 18-of-30 from the floor (60 percent) and 6-of-12 from the arc.

The rebounding edge was 21-12 with S-V grabbing six of their missed shots on offensive rebounds.

Woodlawn, in contrast, was just 15-of-42 from the field (35.7 percent) and 6-of-14 from the 3-point line.

“We just played poorly tonight. We shot the ball poorly and that is who we are, we have to make shots and if we don't make shots from the perimeter we are going to struggle,” said Coach Gamber. “They had a kid (Boles) who had a big night, he went crazy and hit some big shots.”

Sesser's opponent on Tuesday, Central A&M, is now 31-3 on the season.

The Raiders are a member of the Central Illinois Conference and they are the only 1A school in the league as everyone else is 2A and 3A.

They are coached by Rob Smith, a former assistant coach under Ken Crawford at Teutopolis.

Moweaqua is where the school is located and the A&M stands for the town's Assumption and Moweaqua.

The school is located 160-miles north of Carbondale.

“When we first went (to the super) I didn't appreciate as much as I do now,” said Coach Garner about his first year as the head coach when they went to Peoria in 2014. “This is pretty special.”

Sesser-Valier (55) – Winchester 1 2 8-10 16, E. Gunter 0 0 0-0 0, Kirk 3 0 0-1 6, Bates 0 0 4-4 4, Boles 5 4 1-2 23, Garrett Gunter 1 0 0-4 2, Woodland 1 0 0-0 2, Eubanks 1 0 0-0 2, Gavin Gunter 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-12, 3FG-6, FT-13-21, PF-10.

Woodlawn (39) – McKay 3 1 2-2 11, Hollenkamp 0 1 0-0 3, Spangler 1 0 1-2 3, Tiemann 1 3 0-0 11, Martin 4 0 0-0 8, England 0 0 0-0 0, Rynski 0 1 0-0 3.
2FG-9, 3FG-6, FT-3-4, PF-23.

Fouled Out – McKay, Spangler - Woodlawn.
Technical Fouls – Spangler - Woodlawn.