JOHNSTON CITY — If the Tuesday and Wednesday night games are any indication, fans are in for a treat when Johnston City hosts the regional championship game Friday.
After Anna-Jonesboro beat West Frankfort in the final seconds Tuesday, Chester denied Du Quoin the game-winning basket and picked up a 53-52 win on Wednesday.
Braeden Pursell fed Lamontay Daughtery for an easy basket to give Du Quoin a 52-49 lead with 3:30 left in the game. The Yellow Jackets didn’t allow a point the rest of the way.
“We kept switching, showing them the zone and showing them the man,” said Chester coach Brad Norman. “The kids are really starting to figure out the rotation in that 2-3, and it’s awesome. Being able to extend and have a guy like (Keith Kiner) in the middle that you can kind of funnel them in to, they did a heck of a job there late in the game.”
Chester’s Ian Reith sank a jump shot to give the Yellow Jackets a one-point edge with seven seconds left. The Indians had a chance to win it but couldn’t deliver.
Reith scored 15 points for the Yellow Jackets, and Kiner led the squad with 20. Chester improved to 22-8 overall and tied the school record for wins.
“I don’t realize where we are total wise throughout the year,” Norman said. “But it’s pretty cool for these guys. They’ll get to put it in their yearbook, and they’ll get to say they tied the school record with a chance at getting the school record. So, it’s really awesome for them and the parents. It’s really cool for the community. It’s been a long, long time since a team has won 22 games.”
Chester had trouble defending Daughtery, a 6-foot-7 standout, early in the game. The sophomore buried a triple, scored twice in the paint and sank two free throws for nine points in the opening 4:18 of the game.
But Daughtery was called for his second foul with about two minutes left in the first quarter and sat for about six minutes the rest of the half.
Meanwhile, Kiner, a 6-foot-4 forward for Chester, racked up 12 points in the first half. Kiner’s tip-in with 5:30 left in the second quarter gave the Yellow Jackets a six-point lead.
Daughtery re-entered the game about 30 seconds later and eventually tied the contest for Du Quoin with three seconds left in the first half.
“We just didn’t rebound well enough to win a postseason game,” said Du Quoin coach Justin Barrington. “Credit their kid, he hit a shot. The last true possession, they made a shot, and we didn’t. That’s how it goes in postseason basketball.”
Daughtery scored 20 points for the Indians, and Josh Heape added 12.
Chester takes on Anna-Jonesboro for the regional championship on Friday.