With the clock running out against Centralia on Saturday, Carterville’s Shane Hawkins chose not to call a timeout.
The decision panned out when Carterville senior Blake Anderson made a running floater with 2.3 seconds remaining to send the Lions home with a 27-26 road victory. Hawkins remembers the play vividly.
“It was one of those things where we had the ball with 25 seconds left and if I call a timeout it makes things a challenge,” Hawkins said on Monday. “It allows the defense to come out with a better plan to stop us, so we played the clock down to seven seconds and got a shot off.”
Shane’s son, Caden Hawkins, attempted an 8-foot leaner from the left corner on Carterville’s first attempt that hit the rim and found Anderson for the teams second opportunity. It was all set up by dribble driving and paint penetration before Anderson hit the shot.
“(Caden’s) shot wasn’t a clean shot or clean look, but we knew that if we could get something on the rim we’d have a chance,” said Hawkins. “We had guys on the backside poking at the rebound before (Anderson) got the ball and we always talk about staying in the play because when you do then sometimes good things happen.”
Centralia entered Saturday’s game ranked within the Top 15 schools of the state. The basketball program has thrived under coach Lee Bennett (295-102) over the past 13 seasons, but fell victim to a low scoring affair against a fearless Lions team.
Hawkins ranks the victory among many other great moments in Carterville’s school history. As for his career, it’ll have to compete with his Marion Wildcats team that made a sectional finals appearance in 2013.
“It may not be the best win in school history but it has to be in the discussion,” said Hawkins. “Centralia has a tradition of winning basketball games over the last 115 years. You take that and the fact that it’s a 3A school, but sometimes we get caught up in the level of play.
“They’ve also been ranked every year in the top 15-20 and last week they were 13th. When you add all of that into the mix I think it gets our program turned in the right direction. When we look back at the Pinckneyville win and Centralia win those are two major stepping stones for our program.”
Hawkins’ team was limited to one practice last week and currently sits at 6-1 overall with a 3-1 record in the River-to-River conference. It’s been a season of close matchups for the Lions; earlier in the month they narrowly escaped Herrin at home, 36-34, after Riley Chrostoski made a full-court shot waived off by officials to give Carterville its second win at that point.
It’s been a steady month of growth for Carterville since, with senior Eli Downen holding down the front court. Hawkins noted he’s seen a change in mindset with his players.
“I would like to say we’ve grown a lot as a team but after one practice last week that part was hard to see,” said Hawkins. “It’s all about their mindset, we’re not scared to go play anybody or get beat. These are guys who welcome the challenge and play with a no fear attitude.”
Carterville plays a road game against Dre Scott and the Pinckneyville Panthers on Tuesday.
“Things only get easier,” Hawkins said jokingly.
Yates starting in JUCO
The John A. Logan Volunteers are off to a 7-1 start in 2021 with former Pinckneyville Panther guard Dawson Yates in the starting lineup.
After a 2-0 start to the season, Logan lost to Mineral Area College on Jan. 30 where Yates recorded four points, two steals, one rebound and one assist off the bench. In his next game against Kaskaskia College coach Kyle Smithpeters offered the freshman a starting role.
“I was in the back gym shooting during pregame and he asked me if I felt like starting,” said Yates. “I walked away not really knowing what happened, but I definitely remember telling him yes.”
Yates’ numbers through five games starting won’t earn him any Hall of Fame nods, but he’s okay with that. He prefers setting up teammates like Mario McKinney, Jamarion Sharp or Sydney Curry for a highlight reel play.
In between his time in Pinckneyville and Logan, Yates added 15 pounds of muscle alongside improving his footwork to cover some of the best guards in the area. One of those happens to be his teammate, McKinney, a 6-foot-2 and 185 pound scoring guard averaging 19.3 points a night.
“I always try to guard Mario as much as possible,” said Yates. “His quickness is unmatchable… being able to guard him in practice is my priority.”
Yates improved his confidence earlier in the season after a conversation with Smithpeters. He has understood his role ever since.
“I knew that I needed to improve everything just to compete with these guys and do the little things to get on the floor,” said Yates. “Coach told me I’m doing great and that really helped.
“My teammates definitely help take the load off. My role isn’t to score 25 a night and I definitely worked my way into that.”
Logan hosts Olney Central College on Wednesday.