MURPHYSBORO — A youthful Murphysboro Red Devils squad took a step towards maturity Wednesday night, rallying from nine points down with 4:22 remaining to beat Chester, 39-36, on the third day of the 16th Annual Ernie Bozarth Memorial Thanksgiving boys basketball Tournament.
“We had four straight chances early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get it done and then we got on a good streak,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “Our whole game tonight was streaks of offense. We were good for a little and then not so good for a little bit. The last four minutes, we took care of the ball and took quality shots because we were a lot more patient than we were in the first half. We gave up a lot of size tonight, but our kids were really good defensively.”
Murphyboro improved to 3-0 while Chester lost its first game of the season to drop to 1-1.
Murphysboro senior guard Corbin Guthman led the game with 19 points with four 3-pointers, including one with 28 seconds left to give the Red Devils the lead.
“I was supposed to take that shot from the top of the key, but that broke down, so we reset it,” Guthman said. “JaQuan Jackson drove it and kicked out to me to the left of the top of the key and it just happened to work out.”
The Yellow Jackets didn’t score during the Red Devils' game-winning rally. Chester also had a terrible night at the line, making just 7-of 16 foul shots.
“We can’t make free throws and if you can’t make free throws, especially in the fourth quarter, you can’t win games — it’s that simple,” said Chester coach Brad Norman. “I think it was indecisive decision-making on our part offensively that caused the momentum to shift."
The rally started with junior forward Jamarr McZeke sinking a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the lead to six with 4:07 left. After taking a timeout, the Yellow Jackets went into a stall to milk some time off the clock.
A minute and half later, Chester missed a shot and Murphysboro cut the lead to three on a 3-pointer from the top of the key by junior forward Jameirr Frazier with 2:35 remaining.
Jackson then made the defensive play of the game, getting the ball back by knocking it out of bounds, off the foot of senior forward Colin Wingerter.
“I was just grabbing for it, trying to make a play for the team,” Jackson said. “I won’t say I’m a defensive-type person, I was just playing my heart out out there.”
Jackson then drove the lane, scoring a layup to cut the lead to one with 2:17 left.
After the teams traded steals, Murphysboro called a timeout with 51.7 seconds remaining to set up what turned out to be the winning basket with 27.5 seconds left on Guthman’s 3-pointer.
“I had some concern in my head about being down by nine, but I had confidence we could get back and win the game,” Guthman said. “It was a big win for us.”
Chester then called a timeout with 19.5 left, and for the second time, Jackson made another great defensive play, knocking the ball out of the hands of All-Conference forward Keith Kiner III and into the hands of Guthman, who was fouled by Kiner and sent to the line with 6.2 seconds remaining.
Guthman made his first foul shot, but missed his second to give the Yellow Jackets one last chance to tie the score and send the game into overtime. Ian Reith took the ball out of bounds and passed it to Jake Cushman, who passed it back to Reith to the right of the top of the key.
Cushman took the shot as the buzzer sounded, but it went off the front of the rim to the delight of the Murphysboro team and its fans.
Murphysboro led 12-7 at the end of the first quarter, but ran into a scoring drought to fall behind 19-17 at the half. The second half started with Cushman at the line shooting a technical foul that was called on Coach Murphy at the end of the second quarter and he made both shots.
After Drake Bollman had a three-point play of his own when he was fouled on a layup, Cushman sank a 3-pointer to up the lead to eight with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter. Murphysboro cut the lead to four on a layup by Guthman and two foul shots by Jackson, but Matt Korando was fouled with 61 seconds remaining. However, Korando missed both shots to take the six-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The rest of the third day scores saw Steeleville beat Red Bud, 58-18, to improve to 3-0; Sparta beat Trico, 51-50, to improve to 2-0, and Lovejoy beat Confluence JV, 102-26, to improve to 1-1 while Confluence fell to 1-1.