Waltonville hung around but couldn't spring an upset of Goreville on Thursday at the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament.
Goreville won the game 46-43. Goreville entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed, and the Spartans were unseeded.
“We knew coming into it they were going to be big and athletic and strong,” Waltonville coach Brian Gamber said. “We don't have a whole lot of size, but we felt like if we guard them the right way, maybe limit some of their strengths.”
Goreville took a 44-41 edge into the final 30 seconds. Waltonville's Austin Zahm converted a shot and was fouled by Zeke Snell with 16.7 seconds left, but his foul shot to tie the game at 44 missed. Waltonville immediately fouled Daniel Lanham, who hit both shots to make the score 46-43.
Waltonville called time out to design a final play. Justin Winchester fired up a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, but his attempt clanged off the rim.
“For as well as we played to come up that short, that's a tough one,” Gamber said. “But nobody's going to feel sorry for us, we have to be able to respond tomorrow and have an early practice and get ready for Century.”
Goreville's Kyefer Cavins led all scorers with 16 points.
Winchester, Hunter Coggins and Austin Zahm all had 12 points each to lead Waltonville. Zahm added seven rebounds.
The game was close throughout after Goreville took a 10-2 edge to start the game.
“From that point on, I felt like we slowed the tempo,” Gamber said. “We made them chase us around started getting really good shots, which slows them down.”
Down 12-6 with less than a minute left in the first quarter, the Spartans ended the period strong. Zahm corralled an offensive rebound and scored. Coggins ended the quarter with a 3-pointer to make the score 12-11.
Dylan Miller evened the game at 14, and Coggins gave the Spartans a 17-14 edge with a three early in the second quarter. Waltonville held a slender advantage throughout the second quarter and closed the period with a 24-21 edge.
Goreville surged ahead early in the third quarter and took a 32-28 lead after a dunk from Snell.
Again Waltonville fought back. Miller put the Spartans up 37-33 with a layup with 13 second left. Goreville's Connor Seavers tapped in a rebound with a second left in the quarter to close the gap to 37-35 going into the fourth.
The lead bounced back and forth throughout the final period, setting the stage for the drama of the final minute.
Waltonville is 1-5 this season and faces Century at noon today.