JUNCTION — Sesser-Valier and Cairo traded buckets, and the lead, for the first two-and-a-half quarters Wednesday night at the Gallatin County Class 1A Sectional. Midway through the third quarter Cairo guards Terrell Jones and Dequavius Williams picked up their fourth fouls.
The momentum turned in Sesser-Valier’s favor with Jones and Williams on the bench.
Moments after he hit a 3-pointer to put the Pilots on top 33-30, Jones picked up his fourth foul. Tyler Winchester pulled the Red Devils to within one with a tough fadeaway jumper in the lane.
Williams picked up his fourth foul on a charge on the ensuing possession. Eli Gunter scored on an offensive rebound to put Sesser-Valier on top 34-33.
“We went into a press for a little bit when their guards went out,” said Sesser-Valier coach Shane Garner. “It kind of speeded them up and got us a few turnovers. I just thought we attacked better in the second half. The first half we were on our heels a little bit. The second half we were a little more downhill, which is what we want.”
The Red Devils nursed a four point lead early in the fourth quarter until Cairo coach Larry Wood brought Williams and Jones back into the game. Jones promptly sank a three at the 4:16 mark to give the Pilots their last lead of 45-44, but he promptly fouled out of the game.
With Jones and Williams out of the game, Sesser-Valier was able to get back into its offense more easily.
“They were more aggressive than we thought they were going to be, especially from the volleyball line on up,” Garner said. “They were really pressing us, making our entry passes extremely hard. Hats off to them for a great game plan.”
Cairo took its final lead of the game when Isaiah Brown scored on a runout at the 1:22 mark.
Seth Boles hit a pair of free throws with 59 seconds left to put Sesser-Valier on top to stay. The Red Devils hit 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
“We knew the speed of the game that nothing was safe, it could disappear as quickly as it came, that was our mentality to keep pushing,” Garner said. “Our guys were able to get into the bonus and make some free throws down the end.”
The Red Devils advance to face Woodlawn in the sectional finals.
Winchester led Sesser-Valier with 19 points and Boles finished 16.
Isaiah Brown led Cairo with 16 points. Daurice Morse scored 14 and Jones tacked on an additional 13 points to the effort.