PEORIA — The first triple overtime game in a state basketball championship since 1989 was won by Bloomington Central Catholic on Saturday as they knocked off Nashville 76-62 to win the Class 2A state title.
East St. Louis Lincoln defeated Peoria Central in triple overtime to win the 1989 Class AA state title.
Nashville led by 11 points with 4 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in regulation, but the Hornets were unable to withstand 14 3-pointers and a relentless comeback by the Saints (27-6).
"That's awful tough, especially when we were that close," Nashville coach Brad Weathers said. "It's certainly disappointing and I feel for the kids because I thought we played extremely hard against a very, very talented Central Catholic team.
"We had our opportunities, but give them a lot of credit. They knocked down some big, big shots. They caused a couple turnovers at inopportune times."
After the teams slugged it out through four quarters and two overtimes, Central Catholic outscored Nashville 14-0 in the third overtime to win the first state basketball title in school history.
Central Catholic guard Nick Norton scored eight of those 14 points and poured in 23 of his game-high 25 points after halftime. Norton, a transfer from Columbia, Mo., was 5-for-12 on 3-pointers and eight for 10 at the free-throw line.
The Hornets finished 27-8 and fell just short in their bid to win the school's first state basketball championship since 1978.
"Momentum shifted, really near the end of regulation ... but I've got to credit our kids for the fortitude that they had," Weathers said. "They sucked it up and got it through two more overtimes until the third. That's an awfully good ballclub and I really felt both teams left it out there tonight."
Nashville senior Clint Johannes said things were going well when the Hornets were up by 11 points. The Hornets were still up by six with 1:14 remaining on a shot by Daniel Thorson.
"We were feeling pretty good, I guess a little too good," said Johannes, who scored 13 points. "They rallied back like any good team would. You've got to hand it to them for taking those shots."
Nashville sophomore Royce Newman scored 21 points before fouling out with 1:53 remaining in the third overtime.
Norton fired in four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help push the game into overtime. His 3-pointer cut Nashville's lead to 50-48 with 51.7 seconds remaining in regulation.
"They got open," Weathers said. "Norton hit some NBA range (3's) up at the top there. Our 6-6 Dylan Mueller was out there a couple times and he still drained them. They just got it turned around.
"We had the ball down low at times and couldn't convert and it was awfully physical in there. We just couldn't get it down."
Central Catholic's Austin Holman hit two of four free throws in the final 47.7 seconds to force overtime.
Central Catholic was 14-for-44 on 3-point tries (31.8 percent) while Nashville was 2-for-20 (10 percent).
Nashville had chances to finish out the game in regulation, but late turnovers and missed opportunities came back to haunt the Hornets.
Central Catholic's Elliot Hoerdemann missed a 3-point try from the corner at the end of the first overtime. The Hornets had a wild shot by Keegan Anderson at the end of the second overtime that was off the mark and the team headed to a third OT.
Central Catholic's Jake Reinhart, who finished with 19 points, hit two big 3-pointers in the second OT and another in the third.
Thorson and Johannes each had 13 points for the Hornets.
Nashville led by as many as 10 in the third quarter, but a flurry of 3-pointers kept the Saints hanging around in the game.
Nashville's strong inside play helped pave the way to an eight-point lead early in the second quarter.
However, Bloomington Central Catholic's Parker Goodlick came off the bench to score 11 points in the second quarter and cut the Nashville lead down to 24-20 by halftime.
Goodlick finished with 15 points.
Until Goodlick broke loose, the Saints were having trouble finding any shot consistency against Nashville's 1-2-2 zone defense.
Newman had 10 points in the first half and an 8-0 run put the Hornets on top 17-9. But the Hornets struggled at times with shooting and turnovers and Goodlick heated up quickly from the outside.
Nashville won its last state basketball championship in 1978 and also finished fourth in 1949. The only metro-east teams to win small-school state titles since 1978 are Madison (1981), Venice (1987), Carlyle (1989), Wesclin (1990) and Central (2012).
From 1997 to 2007, Nashville made five straight tournament trips under former coach Darin Lee and did not make it past the first round.
Providence St. Mel blasted Petersburg PORTA 71-36 in the Class 2A third-place game.
Mooseheart (29-3) defeated Heyworth 63-47 to win the Class 1A state championship game, giving the 100-year-old school its first state title. Heyworth erased an early 19-2 deficit and led briefly in the third quarter before the Red Ramblers regained control.