FREEBURG — The Battle of Waterloo Part II went to the Gibault Hawks for the second time this season.
And the script was much like their encounter Dec. 11 in Gibault's 40-37 win: tight, gut-wrenching and down-to-the-wire.
The Hawks (12-1) survived a late Waterloo Bulldogs push, surviving a pair of last-ditch shots in a 38-36 victory, sending Gibault into today's 8 p.m. championship game of the Freeburg-Columbia Holiday Tournament.
"It was just like the last game. We played them the last time and it was the same kind of situation," Gibault coach Dennis Rueter said. "Whoever makes a play and we just happened to make one more play than they made."
Nick Row's free throws with a 1 minute and 19 seconds remaining snapped a 36-all tie and Gibault was able to hold off Waterloo on a turnover with 5.5 seconds left, then on a missed shot by Zach Schaab and Jared Lengacher's 3-pointer as time expired.
"I would say what sticks out most is the Gibault Hawks flat-out made more plays to win the game than the Waterloo Bulldogs," Waterloo coach C.J. Cruser said. "Plain and simple. We both ran almost the exact same play in a tie game. We couldn't find a way to get it in the hoop. They found a way to get a foul and make two free throws.
"You had a feeling it was going to come down to the last minute of the game or the last possession like it did the last time. ... We went to the well, they went to the well. They found a way to get it done, and we didn't."
The Hawks had the better of the play in the first quarter, taking a 12-4 lead when Mitch Meyer nailed a 3 at the buzzer.
But the Bulldogs, who were 1-of-5 in the opening eight minutes, rebounded in the second quarter and tied it 16-16 at halftime. Ryan Aycock and Jared Lengacher hit 3s to aid Waterloo, which had eight first-half turnovers.
In the third quarter, Waterloo utilized junior Shane Lenhardt on pick-and-rolls and backdoor cuts to get on top.
"Getting up (by) four was like an insurmountable lead tonight," said Cruser, whose team was led by Lenhardt with 11 points. "We finally found (Lenhardt). We finally made the pass into him. We were trying to find him early as well. We tried a different approach early (in the third)."
But the Hawks, who got nine points apiece from Mitch Meyer and Matt Schreder, gutted out what Rueter called a "grinder."
"That's what I said several times; as soon as I saw we were playing them, I knew that was what it was going to be," Rueter said. "Both of us played like we played the first time. Both times, we just made one more play than they made."
The second-seeded Hawks, looking for their first tournament title since 2002, will take on top-seeded (Alton) Marquette Catholic in the championship game.
The Explorers dismantled an overmatched Murphysboro team 61-32 in the second semifinal. Marquette used a 16-2 run to break open a 35-25 game.
Mike Williams-Bey, who was suspended for the first eight games of the season, came off the bench to lead all scorers with 17 points. Deion Lavender and Jake Coddington each added 15.
"Defensively, we got after it at times," Marquette coach Steve Medford said. "They're one of the few teams that took a lot of screens. For us to guard that, we guarded it pretty well."
Columbia 44, Civic Memorial 42
Columbia (8-4) advanced to the fifth-place game with a win in a battle of Eagles.
Michael Hunsaker (17) and Connor Mallinckrodt (13) combined for 30 points and eight 3-pointers to pave the way for Columbia. Kyle Yates tallied 15 points for CM (6-7), which will play at 3:30 p.m. in the seventh-place game.
Columbia used a 13-1 third-quarter run to take a 39-29 lead before CM peeled off an 11-0 run at the end of the third and into the fourth to briefly regain the lead at 41-40.
Freeburg 52, Lebanon 49
The host Midgets (4-8) will face rival Columbia for fifth place after knocking off the Greyhounds (6-6) in a fifth-place semifinal.
Justin Diecker's 17 points paved the way for Freeburg, which also got 15 points from Jacob Mueller and 12 from Dalton Crunk.
Tywansley Lashley led Lebanon with 11 points, while Mason Christ chipped in with 10.
The Greyhounds will face CM at 3:30 p.m.
Dupo 59, Valmeyer 37
The Tigers (4-9) picked up their first win of the tournament and kept the Pirates winless at 0-11.
The Tigers will play for ninth place and face Metro-East Lutheran at 2 p.m. Valmeyer will play in the 11th-place game at 12:30 p.m. against Hillsboro.
Metro-East Lutheran 50, Hillsboro 46
The Knights (4-11) also picked up their first win of the tournament by knocking off the Hiltoppers in consolation play.
The Knights got 17 points from sophomore John Batts and 15 from junior Paul Klarich.
Hillsboro got a game-high 23 points from 6-foot-7 sophomore center Dylan Miller in a losing effort.