Sesser-Valier nabs key road win
Winchester hits overtime game winner, Red Devils top Woodlawn, 38-36

– On Tuesday night, in a defensive struggle between two long time rivals, the Woodlawn Cardinals' defense held Sesser-Valier sharp shooter Tyler Winchester well below his scoring average as he finished with just eight-points on the night.

As it turned out, they needed to hold him to just six.

In the final seconds of overtime, the 6-foot-2 team leader came around a pick and launched a runner just inside the free throw line that found nothing but the bottom of the net with under one second remaining to give his Red Devils' a come-from-behind 38-36 triumph over the hosts in a key non-conference matchup with postseason ramifications.

The victory over the Cardinals likely locked up the top-seed in the upcoming Sub-Sectional A in the Gallatin County Sectional for Coach Shane Garner's club.

“Eli, after he handed the ball off, screened my defender and it left it wide open for me,” said Winchester. “I took advantage of what I could get. That was my shot (runner) back in my sophomore and junior years.”

Sesser-Valier got the job done on a night in which they improve to 18-5 on the season as they now hold regular season wins over both Woodlawn and Thompsonville, the likely two and three seeds in the sub-sectional.

In a contest ruled by the defenses the Red Devils got 12-points from 6-foot-3 senior Seth Boles, including seven in a fourth quarter where Sesser-Valier rallied from six-points down to force overtime.

For Woodlawn it was a contest that they could have won except they made too many mistakes that cost them in key moments of the close matchup.

Coach Brian Gamber's squad fell to 19-4 on the season due, in part, to not being able to knock down shots from the foul line.

Woodlawn ended up just 5-of-14 from the line in the game.

“Our kids played hard. We guarded well. We held Winchester to eight-points. If you had told me that we would hold him to eight, then I think we would have a good chance to win,” said Coach Gamber. “Both teams guarded well and it comes down to a few things. We make some free throws and we win.”

Six-foot-two junior Blake McKay led the Cardinals with 18-points, a game-high figure, while 6-foot-2 junior Aaron Spangler chipped in eight.

Six-foot-three senior Jake Martin added seven-points but was just 1-of-7 from the foul line.

The Cardinals could have ended the game with a win at the end of regulation but sophomore guard Jackson Tiemann misfired on a 1-and-1 opportunity with just :00.9 remaining with the game tied at 32-all.

Again, in overtime, the foul line wasn't a good place for Woodlawn as McKay hit just 1-of-2 from the stripe as Sesser-Valier got the ball for a final shot.

Winchester came around a screen and got the opening he needed.

Woodlawn got a timeout and, after a discussion by the officials, :00.6 was put back onto the clock.

Spangler launched a length of the court pass that was intercepted by sophomore Garrett Gunter as the final horn sounded.

The Red Devils largest lead of the game came in the early going as they jumped out to a 7-2 advantage.

Boles scored five of his points on a 3-pointer and an inside shot on a pass from 5-foot-10 junior guard Eli Gunter.

Gunter also added points in the quarter, as did junior Peyton Bates.

Bates nailed a 3-pointer that he banked home for a 10-8 lead with 1:12 left before going to the bench.

“Peyton Bates, who is coming off of an injury, tried to give it a shot tonight. He came over and said 'I don't think I can go' and I told him you just won the ballgame for us,” said Coach Garner about the banked 3-pointer in the first quarter. “We're proud of him for trying to go tonight and stepping up and being a man there in saying he couldn't go.”

After a made free throw, the quarter ended with the team's trading 3-pointers.

Winchester nailed a long range shot from the top of the arc with under :06 left.

However Woodlawn got the ball quickly to half-court and sophomore guard Hunter England launched a 40-footer that beat the buzzer as the frame ended at 12-11 S-V.

Eli Gunter got loose in the lane and converted a conventional three-point play in the second quarter.

McKay answered with a 3-pointer and then 1-of-2 from the foul line.

Junior guard Logan Kirk scored on yet another assist from Eli Gunter with 2:42 remaining before intermission.

That was the end of the second quarter scoring.

Sesser-Valier held the ball for just over a minute to close out the half but Garrett Gunter missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer as the teams went to the break at 18-16 Red Devils.

To paint the photo of the first half there was a lot of “red” on the canvass/ledger.

The two clubs combined to shoot just 13-of-33 from the floor and they totaled 12 turnovers between them.

Strong defenses will do that in close games when teams are this familiar with one another.

Woodlawn's best chance of coming away with a victory came in the third quarter as they scored six-consecutive points with Martin, McKay and Spangler all producing baskets.

They outscored Sesser-Valier 10-2 in the frame as McKay added two more free throws and Spangler added another score in the lane for a 26-20 lead heading into the fourth.

Again, Woodlawn could have been up nine at this point but three more missed free throws by Martin kept them from extending the lead.

As if on cue, the Red Devils got going in the fourth quarter with two big early shots by Winchester and Boles.

Winchester posting up inside and Boles driving for a conventional three-point play while being fouled by junior Chase Hollenkamp.

After McKay answered with a drive down the left side of the lane, Boles and Gavin Gunter answered with points.

Boles found yet another seam in the Woodlawn defense and got to the rim for points and Gunter hit two free throws to give S-V back the lead at 31-30 at the 3:11 mark.

“He (Boles) saw some openings on secondary stuff we were running for Tyler and he got to the goal and finished for us,” said Coach Garner about Boles scores in the fourth quarter. “We've got some tough kids and Tanner (Eubanks), his name won't come up in a box score but he is a vital part of what we do.”

McKay added yet another score on a shot from the right wing and Winchester hit 1-of-2 from the line to even things at 32-all with 1:08 left.

The Red Devils had two chances to win the contest but McKay came up with two big defensive plays at the end of regulation.

He block a shot attempt by Eli Gunter, knocking the ball out of bounds under the Sesser-Valier basket with :04.3.

He then came up with a steal under the basket on the inbounds play and got the ball to Tiemann who was fouled by Kirk.

The missed free throw sent the teams to overtime.

A McKay 3-pointer from the left corner and Garrrett Gunter scoring points with two free throws and then a drive in the lane got the overtime going.

McKay, who hit the first of two foul shots with :09.6, missed the second shot which set the stage for Winchester to send the Red Devils home with a big road victory.

“That was just a defensive breakdown (last play). We guarded the heck out of him (Winchester) all night but we had guys out chasing and then we had three guys standing in one spot and he gets open and drive to about 15 or 16 feet and he makes the shot,” said Coach Gamber. “That is a breakdown and you can't do that. I told the guys there is a fine line between winning when you play someone really good. If you want to win games like that the little things like that will come back and get you.”

The tale of the tape wasn't pretty for either squad but it was also very even overall.

Sesser-Valier ended up 14-of-33 from the field while the Cardinals were 14-of-32.

Woodlawn held a slight 18-17 rebounding edge while they also committed one more turnover (14-13) than the guests.

As it turned out, the Red Devils hitting 7-of-10 from the foul line, was good enough to help secure the win.

“It doesn't matter the situation, the games (between us) are going to be just like that. We are proud our guys tonight,” said Coach Garner. “We have two seniors there, Eli Gunter and Tyler Winchester and they executed exactly what we were talking about in our last timeout. We got the guy with the ball that we wanted, and he got a great look at the basket and he (Winchester) did the rest. It came down to who had the ball last and we got the shot to go. Both teams played their hearts out tonight. That was a good, competitive ballgame.”

Sesser-Valier (38) – Woodland 0 0 0-0 0, Winchester 2 1 1-2 8, E. Gunter 3 0 1-1 7, G. Gunter 1 0 4-6 6, Kirk 1 0 0-0 2, Bates 0 1 0-0 3, Boles 4 1 1-1 12, Eubanks 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-11, 3FG-3, FT-7-10, PF-14.

Woodlawn (36) – Hu. England 0 1 0-0 3, McKay 4 2 4-6 18, Hollenkamp 0 0 0-0 0, Spangler 4 0 0-0 8, Tiemann 0 0 0-1 0, Ha. England 0 0 0-0 0, Martin 3 0 1-7 7.
2FG-11, 3FG-3, FT-5-14, PF-16.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.