Shandon Boone keeping the ball away from Tanner Ashburn.

JERSEYVILLE - There was honestly no better way to kick off the final day of the Jersey Community High School Mid-Winter Classic Boys Basketball Tournament than with the intense battle between the Marquette Catholic High School Explorers and the Pittsfield High School Saukees.

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Tied with 28 points at the end of the fourth period, Saturday’s game was forced into overtime with another four minutes added on the clock. Some foul trouble by the Saukees allowed the Explorers to ultimately take the lead and walk away with another great victory with a score of 34-28.

“It was a grind for us,” Explorers coach Steve Medford said after his team’s overtime victory, “I thought kids battled hard and I’m proud of how they came back the way they did. We sometimes struggled to put the ball in the basket, but I always measure a kid by how well they do on the defensive end and we had some really long possessions that they handled well.”

In the first, Pittsfield got the game started early with a series of lengthy possessions. Junior Korbyn Personett kicked off his team’s offense by landing a basket. Shortly after, senior Tanner Ashburn locked down a three-point shot. Senior Tanner Still made a basket to bring the score to 7-0.

Trey Aguirre defends against Korbyn Personett. Senior Shandon Boone locked in his first of many plays for the night with a three-pointer. A foul on Personett allowed two more points by free throws, bringing the score to 9-3.

On a rebound shot, senior Ben Sebacher knocked in a basket. Immediately following a lengthy possession, senior Quinn Leahy used an opening to swoosh in a three-pointer. The score was now 12-5 in the Saukees’ favor.

Boone kept the Explorers alive in the first, knocking in two points from the foul line before landing a two-point basket. Before the end of the period, he locked in one more free throw to narrow the gap between scores at 12-10 at the end of the first, with the Saukees still leading.

In the second, the Explorers were successful in catching up with their opponents.

After Ashburn locked in a basket for Pittsfield, Boone was able to lock in another basket and a three-pointer to finally allow his team to take the lead at 15-14.

As soon as the Saukees’ first timeout ended, junior Austin Ator was able to knock the ball in to produce two more for his team, taking the lead again with a score of 16-15.

A foul committed on Boone allowed him to bring in two more from the foul line to bring the score to 17-16 in the Explorers’ favor.

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Much to Marquette’s chagrin, the back-and-forth between the teams continued once more with Still locking in a basket to have Pittsfield take the lead once again with a score of 18-17 at the end of the second.

The third quarter was truly a defensive battle that, in some spectators opinions, could have resulted in Pittsfield keeping the lead for the remainder of the game.

Ashburn knocked in a basket before Personett made a great steal and brought in two himself.

Trey Aguirre keeps the ball away as Noah Mendenhall blocks. Marquette called a timeout to reevaluate, but soon after the break ended, Ashburn came back again with another basket added to the board. The score was now 24-17 in the Saukees’ favor.

Sophomore Reagan Snider was able to bring in a basket before Pittsfield senior Reese Ramsey could knock in one himself. To close out the period, freshman Chris Hartrich came off the bench and shot in two to bring the score to 26-21 in Pittsfield’s favor.

Five points behind and the clock working against them, the Explorers knew that they had to keep pushing forward. Sebacher was able to land a basket to kick off the period. Shortly after, a foul on Leahy allowed him to lock in two points from the goal line for the Saukees. Fortunately for the Explorers, this was the opportunity that they were waiting for to level the playing field.

After a foul, Boone earned a free point. After Coach Medford called time, his team gained possession of the ball and knocked in a two-point shot with the help of Sebacher.

A long possession by Pittsfield had everyone in the audience thinking that they were going to be able to walk away with their first victory of the tournament. However, some mistakes in their defense earned them a foul on Boone, no less. Locking in two points from free throws, the period ended with tie at 28-28 headed into overtime.

With four more minutes added on the clock, each team evaluated their game plans and went out onto the court. Plagued with the difficulties in their defense yet again, a foul on Boone allowed the Explorers to take the lead with a score of 30-28.

A streak of five timeouts beginning at 2:02 left to a nail-biting 8.6 seconds ate up quite a bit of time between possessions between each team. Pittsfield had several opportunities but unfortunately pull the trigger. Another foul on Boone allowed him to lock in two more points. Then, in the final seconds of the game, a foul on Snider allowed him to shoot two solo shots from the foul line, bringing the score to 34-28 at the final buzzer.

Shandon Boone lead the Explorers in points with a total of 24 points contributed over four quarters and overtime. Ben Sebacher and Reagan Snider each locked in four throughout the game. Hartrich brought in two points for his team.

Tanner Ashburn kept the Saukees alive by contributing nine points throughout four periods. Tanner Still locked in six points. Quinn Leahy was able to bring in five points. Korbyn Personett knocked in four points. Austin Ator and Reese Ramsey each contributed two points.

Reagan Snider blocks Quinn Leahy from shooting a basket.

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