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VANDALIA – Down by nine during the fourth quarter in last Friday’s game, Vandalia senior Colton Woolsey saw a chance to create some excitement.
Knocking away the ball from Carlinville at mid-court, Woolsey picked up speed as he tried to corral the ball and get a dunk.
It didn’t go down.
“They called timeout after that, which I thought could have been a disaster for us,” said coach Brian Buscher. “Colton had his head down, but he said, ‘I’m good. I’m good.’
“It was the right mental frame of mind to be in.”
And it showed for the rest of the game.
Woolsey closed the game with 16 of his career-high 22 points in the last 4:05 minutes of regulation and the four minute overtime period as the Vandals came back from an early 11-point deficit to upset the visiting Cavaliers, 61-60, in South Central Conference action on senior night.
Junior Collin Nestleroad added a career-high 24, and senior Carson Smith picked up a team-high seven rebounds and a pair of key assists on two of Woolsey’s late baskets to give the Vandals their third win in conference play.
“They were determined,” Buscher said. “Honestly, we haven’t been that determined all year, or had enough patience to get the right look out of our offense that many times.”
The Vandals trailed by nine with 4:05 left in the game, and two free throws by Woolsey began a streak of seven straight scoring possessions for the Vandals that closed with two more free throws by Woolsey with 9.2 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 55.
The game was tied four times in the last 2:05, and Vandalia only held one lead before Nestleroad hit the game-winning shot with 13 seconds left in overtime.
“We were competing,” Buscher said. “We weren’t perfect, but we were battling and didn’t get down on ourselves.
“I have to watch it on film,” he said of the last 2:05. “When so much of that happens, I’m personally in the moment. I remember drawing the plays up and our guys executing them.”
The biggest shot of those last two minutes came on a 3-pointer by Woolsey just 19 seconds after Carlinville’s Barry Stewart connected on a long-range shot to break a 50-50 tie.
The Vandals (8-18, 3-5 SCC) were slow to start, allowing the Cavaliers a 15-4 lead after the first 4:33, but Vandalia outscored Carlinville 21-13 for the rest of the half to trail by just three at halftime.
Carlinville again built its lead to double digits, going ahead 42-31 early in the final period.
And Buscher said for seniors Woolsey, Smith, Colin Ledbetter, Jake Shulman and Wade Harre to earn a hard-fought win on senior night is an unforgettable experience.
“These guys have struggled to get wins in high school,” Buscher said. “To play as well as they did tonight, that is something that they will remember for a long time.”
Vandalia closed the season last Saturday with makeup game against Pana, but were torched in a 102-68 SCC loss.
The Panthers made 12 3-pointers in the game and made 39 shots from the field, getting 13 athletes into the scoring column.
The 68 points matched Vandalia's season-high, as were the 102 points allowed.
Senior Colton Woolsey and junior Collin Nestleroad each had 16 points to lead the Vandals (8-19, 3-6 SCC), and senior Carson Smith added 14.
Pana's Kyle Gibson paced the game with 24 points, and Jonathan McLeod added 20. The Panthers had 27 points in the first period, and 25 in each of the final three quarters.
Vandalia's season continued on Wednesday in the East Alton-Wood River Regional, with the No. 3 Vandals battling second-seeded Roxana at 6 p.m. Results of that game will be available at www.leaderunion.com on Thursday morning.
Friday, Feb. 21
Points: Nestleroad, 24; Woolsey, 22; Harre, 6; Smith, 6; Shulman, 2; Austin Durbin, 1.
Rebounds: Smith, 7; Nestleroad, 4; Ledbetter, 3; Woolsey, 3; Harre, 2; Shulman, 2; Team, 2; Dead-ball, 1.
Assists: Woolsey, 5; Smith, 4; Durbin, 1; Nestleroad, 1.
Steals: Harre, 2; Woolsey, 2; Durbin, 1; Nestleroad, 1.
Blocks: Woolsey, 2; Harre, 1; Ledbetter, 1; Smith, 1.
Record: 8-18 (3-5 SCC)
Saturday, Feb. 22
Points: Nestleroad, 16; Woolsey, 16; Smith, 14; Harre, 8; Robby Lott, 6; Durbin, 3; Richie Well, 3; Shulman, 2.
Rebounds: Woolsey, 6; Smith, 5; Nestleroad, 4; Shulman, 4; Drake Dokey, 1; Durbin, 1; Harre, 1; Lott, 1.
Record: 8-19 (3-6 SCC)