Marion senior Cole Schafer didn't have time to think Friday as he got a wide-open look with two seconds left in overtime in the Class 3A Centralia Sectional title game.
Instead, the 6-foot-5 forward did what he has done thousands of times before.
Schafer made a 3-point jumper as time expired, and Marion shocked East St. Louis 71-68 to capture its first sectional title since 1990.
Getting a second chance after a rebound skipped off an East St. Louis player with 2.9 seconds remaining, the Wildcats (22-11) executed to perfection.
Schafer, who had hit two 3-point shots earlier in the game, got the inbound pass and hit nothing but net as the Wildcats celebrated and the Flyers, who finish the season at 16-11, collapsed in disbelief as their season came to a crashing halt.
"We have this little out-of-bounds play that we've run from time to time, not that often. But with Cole, I can't think of anyone I'd rather have take that shot," Marion coach Dave Brown said. "Of all the kids in this basketball program, he (Cole) is probably the one who spends the most time coming in early and staying late."
The win lifts Marion into the Springfield super-sectional, where it will take on Springfield Southeast at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Southeast defeated Springfield Lanphier 51-42 to win the Springfield Southeast sectional Friday.
East St. Louis, which led 44-34 entering the fourth quarter and by as many as 12 earlier in the game, seemingly had everything under control. The Flyers never trailed until the overtime period, but with their two top players — senior Joe Reese and junior Terrance Hargrove — spending time on the bench., the Wildcats rallied.
Reese was in foul trouble before fouling out with 1:09 left in regulation, and Hargrove went down with an ankle injury with 5:40 remaining and the Flyers having a six-point lead.
Hargrove had to be helped to the Flyers bench, and although he returned, the 6-7 junior was slowed by the injury. Hargrove finished with 16 points.
Still, the Flyers had a chance to win the game.. With a 68-65 lead, the Flyers had a chance to add to their cushion, but the Wildcats tied the game, setting the stage for the frantic final seconds.
"It's a really rough way to lose a basketball game," East St. Louis coach Mark Chambers said. "They (Marion) hit some really tough shots down the stretch. It's tough, though, when one of your best players fouls out and the another one gets hurt in the fourth quarter of the sectional title game. We gave it a great effort.'"
Marion senior John Saddoris led the way for the Wildcats with 20 points. Saddoris scored 10 of his points to help key the fourth-quarter comeback.
"I'm just so proud of these kids," Brown said. "There is just no quit in any of them. East St. Louis is a very good team, but our kids showed that they could come back from adversity again and win the basketball game."