Austin Elledge had already scored his 1,000th career point Tuesday and finished with 24 points, but it was his key defensive play that helped preserve Highland’s 63-61 overtime victory over the Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin Cyclones.
The Cyclones had the ball at the opposite end of their basket with 2.6 seconds remaining following a missed free throw. Even with 7-foot-1 Highland senior Michael Torre standing in front of him with outstretched arms, Griffin’s Sam Sergent managed to flip as high inbounds deep into the other end of the court.
Griffin’s Western Illinois University defensive back recruit Avery Andrews went up high for the ball, but Elledge came up with it and held on long enough for time to expire.
“We’ve got to get the ball (there). You’ve just got to match their intensity,” said Elledge, a 5-11 senior guard. “They were definitely singling him out. He’s athletic and he was going to go up and get the ball, I guess we just met.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
They did and Elledge came up with what amounted to an interception.
Highland’s Brode Portell, who finished with 11 points, drained a 3-pointer early in the overtime period to give the Bulldogs some momentum. Elledge hit two free throws that pushed Highland’s lead to three, but the Cyclones would not go away.
Jack O’Connor hit two free throws to cut the Highland lead to 62-61 and the Bulldogs Luke Thies hit the first of two foul shots to restore a two-point margin. Sergent missed a 3-point try from the corner with five seconds remaining and the Bulldogs frantically managed to hold on and improve to 2-2 in pool play.
Highland will play for fifth place on Wednesday.
Griffin got 19 points from Andrews, 12 from Sergent and 11 from Missouri tight end recruit Albert Okwuegbunam.
Mater Dei 52, Metro-East Lutheran 46
Mater Dei (7-2) laid a 20-2 run on Metro-East Lutheran (12-3) early in the second half and held off the Knights to reach the third-place game. Metro-East Lutheran will play in the fifth-place game.
“We have to be in that night session regardless, there’s no other option,” Mater Dei coach Ron Schadegg said. “The pool play we were put in (Pool B) I think is a tougher side. To be able to at least have a chance to play in the 6 o’clock game (Wednesday) means a lot to me and it means a lot to our kids.
“We just hope we can extend it and leave this thing 4-1.”
Looking for more of an intense offensive effort, Schadegg found it from some familiar and unfamiliar sources. Senior scoring leader Nick Pollmann had 15 points and senior Jordan Kampwerth added 12, but Spencer Broeckling also had a big night.
Broeckling came off the bench to score 11 points, including seven in the third quarter.
“He understands that he can score points,” Schadegg said. “You put your head down, put your nose in it and go after it. He’s a very passive kid, it’s taken a while to get him to understand that. Now that he’s understanding that he’s experiencing some success.”
Mater Dei led 23-21 at half and two quick buckets by Kenrique Brown gave Metro-East some early momentum in the third quarter.
That’s when Mater Dei took off and didn’t stop running until owning a 45-30 lead early in the fourth quarter. Mater Dei point guard Butchie Timmermann helped fuel the run, setting up Mason Toennies and Pollmann on back-to-back possessions.
Metro-East Lutheran made one more run at Mater Dei, scoring 10 straight points to cut the lead to five before Mater Dei held on.
Metro-East Lutheran got 15 points from Teddy Fifer and 14 from Brown, with Braden Woolsey contributing eight.
Nashville 65, Highland 59
Royce Newman scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Nashville Hornets past the Carlyle Indians. Brogan Kemp added 17 points for Nashville as the Hornets moved to 1-2 in pool play heading into a battle against rival Okawville at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Carlyle got 17 points from Connor Toennies and 11 from sophomore Tyler Siever.
Briarcrest 61, Mascoutah 53
Mascoutah sophomore Blake Weiss led all scorers with 26 points but it wasn’t enough as Briarcrest Christian held on and improved to 3-0 in pool play. Briarcrest senior Nate Vaughn continued his torrid tourney scoring with 24 points and sophomore Cedric Henderson contributed 10 points.