Even as the clock ticked down under 10 seconds in the title game of the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Tournament Saturday, Springfield Southeast junior James Dent never took his eyes of the rim.
It was exactly the scenario Spartans coach James Thomas wanted.
A 6-4 guard, Dent nailed a 21-foot 3-point jumper with 0.1 seconds remaining to give Southeast a 65-62 win over host Collinsville at Fletcher Gymansium.
The defending tournament champion, Southeast (13-1) which rallied from a 10-point deficit with just over five minutes remaining, got he ball back with just under a minute remaining after Collinsville’s Cawhan Smith tied the score at 62 with a short jumper.
Clearing out a side, Dent waited patiently with the ball, knowing he was going to take the shot and with all the confidence that he was going to be the hero.
“I just kept my eyes on the rim. Coach (Thomas) told me to wait until six seconds were left and then go,’’ the spot-spoken Dent said. “I have confidence in myself. I’m just so glad my coaches and teammates have confidence in me.”
The Class 3A state tournament runner-up a year ago, Southeast was playing without first team all-stater Anthony Fairlee who was injured earlier in the week. But playing before a noisy and large partisan Kahoks crowd, the Spartans rallied.
“I just told the kids that whatever adversity we were facing that we had to find a way to rise above it,’’ a smiling Thomas said after the win. “We were playing with a lot of small kids on the floor. But that doesn’t take into account the size of their hearts.
“On Dent’’s shot, that was the matchup we wanted. I told the other kids to go stand in the corner and give. I had confidence in him. But then I have confidence in all my kids.’’
For Collinsville (13-3), looking to win its own tournament for the fifth time and first since 2004, it was its third last-second loss of the season, following losses to Alton and East St. Louis on last second shots earlier this month. The Kahoks held a 56-48 lead with 4:16 remaining Saturday.
But in a game in which 50 fouls were called, 25 on each team, emotions got the best of the Kahoks. Collinsville’s Keydrian Jones and Marshall Harrison were both whistled for technical fouls at the 4:16 mark.
Springfield Southeast guard Damon Davis made all four free throws to cut the Kahoks lead to 56-52 and seconds later Terrion Murdix hit a free throw then rebounded his own foul shot and scored to cut the lead to 56-55.
Within a matter of 26 seconds, the Spartans had cut an eight-point deficit to one and had all the momentum.
“It was definetly the turning point in the game. I’ve been coaching 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,’’ Collinsville coach Darin Lee said of the double technical.
“Three losses all on last second shots. . . .’’
Junior guard Ray’Sean Taylor, playing much of the game in foul trouble, led Collinsville with 24 points, while Jones (12 points) and Smith were also in double figures for the Kahoks.
Dent, who was 5-of-9 from behind the 3-point line, led Southeast with 21 points. Murdix, chosen the tournament MVP, added 15 for the Spartans.
Quincy 46, Belleville East 32
The Blue Devils (6-7) outscored Belleville East 26-16 in the final two quarters and went on for a 14-point win in the consolation final.
Senior guard Kienen Waller led the Lancers (8-8) with 12 points.
East St. Louis 77, Granite City 58
St. Louis University recruit Terrance Hargrove scored 22 points as the Flyers (10-4) rolled past their former Southwestern Conference foe in the fifth place game.
Zidane Moore led Granite City (8-5) with 13 points.
Decatur MacArthur 64, Edwardsville 52
MaCarthur (5-8) had four players in double figures as it wore down the Tigers (3-9) in the ninth place game. Brennan Waller led Edwardsville with 20 points while Jaylon Tuggle added 11.
Althoff 52, O’Fallon 35
The Crusaders (7-7) blew open a close game with a 28-11 advantage in the second quarter as they ran past the Panthers (5-8) in the 11th place game.
Greg Wells scored 16 points for Althoff while Logan Lowery paced O’Fallon with 11 points.
Decatur Eisenhower 85, Madison 79
Brylan Phillips and Lunden Cook combined for 47 points as Eisenhower (6-7) nipped the Trojans in the 13th place game. Emmitt Gordon, a transfer from Granite City, led Madison (8-7) with 28 points.