ELDORADO — Three players were in double figures, including Jake Simon and Travis Black who both scored 13 points, to help fifth-seed Carmi-White County erase a halftime deficit and beat West Frankfort, 56-54, in the opening round of the Eldorado Holiday Tournament.
Carmi (8-1) trailed 43-41 entering the final stanza, and was able to outlast the Redbirds over the final eight minutes.
West Frankfort (2-5) went over six minutes into the fourth quarter before mustering its first field goal of the period.
"We were playing so hard, I thought we were pooped at the end of the game," said West Frankfort coach Kevin Toney. "And Carmi stepped up and hit those free throws."
Senior Austin Glodich scored 18 points for the Redbirds before fouling out. Noah Allen, an all-tournament team selection from last year’s EHT, scored 16 for West Frankfort.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game for us," said Carmi coach Kevin Wolff. "I just can't stress enough how proud I am of our kids for persevering through everything that went on today. They did a fantastic job because that was a little revenge game for us because they (West Frankfort) knocked us out of the tournament last year."
The Redbirds, who reached the semifinals at Eldorado last year, had beaten Carmi in the second round in 2015.
"I think Carmi is a very well-disciplined team," said Toney. "We knew they would handle the ball fairly well, we knew that they could shoot free throws very well. We also knew we had to get out and extend and put pressure on the ball, but we had to do so without fouling. We were able to play hard and put pressure on the ball, but we fouled too much in doing so and that sent them to the line."
Carmi will be looking to continue its quest for its first EHT title since 1998 when it meets Harrisburg in a quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon at 3:15.