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CARTERVILLE -- A late cull allowed Tim Norman, Jack Yates, Dale Dodd and Tim Murphy to win the championship of the 48th Annual Bill Harkins/Don Sanders Four-Man Tournament at Crab Orchard Lake.

The winning team took a miniscule 2.61 pound lead over Mark Jelley, Matt Swalls, Danny Clark and Rick Cheatham into Sunday.

“My partner, Jack Yates, caught one about 4.5 pounds just a couple hours before,” Norman said. “We culled about a two-pounder. That picked us up.”

That fish likely was the difference as Norman’s team topped Jelley, Swalls, Clark and Cheatham by the slimmest of margins -- 0.35 pounds. Jelley’s squad nearly made up the difference Sunday, bringing in 28.97 pounds, compared to 26.81 pounds for the winners.

Norman admitted the weigh-in was a nervous time.

“We led the whole thing,” he said. “It was pretty tough out there. Today was really tough, a lot tougher day.

“We kept in contact all day. We were hoping for the best. There was just a few ounces there.”

And, although the difference was miniscule on the leader board, the payday difference was significant. The winning team earned $4,643 while the runners-up took home $1,857.

Despite the marked difference in weather on Saturday and Sunday, the winners didn’t change tactics. They flipped soft plastics around weed beds both days.

“We pre-fished, found fish and stayed with them,” Norman said. “Luckily they stayed where we found them. The pattern stayed the same.”

Sunday’s weigh-in mirrored Saturday’s. A few teams managed to find fish, but most teams struggled. The top five essentially remained the same from Saturday to Sunday.

There was some shifting on the leader board Sunday, but only one new team appeared in the top five.

“I figured there would be a big bag today,” Norman said. “Fish were slow for us today. We stuck it out and stayed with them. We got our limits both days.”

Scott Levanti earned Big Bass honors for Sunday with a 7.02 pound fish. Big Bass earned $480.

The duo of Tom Burns and Mike McKinney earned $200 for weighing the most fish during the tournament, 39.12 pounds.

The Williamson County Shrine Club received $1,225 from the tournament. Take Pride in America received $450 and the Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days $300. / 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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