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McKay lifts Cardinals to Sweet 16 win

  • Gallatin County senior Audie Goebel looks for room as he drives baseline against Woodlawn Tuesday night in the 1A Sectional semifinal at Gallatin County High School.

    Gallatin County senior Audie Goebel looks for room as he drives baseline against Woodlawn Tuesday night in the 1A Sectional semifinal at Gallatin County High School.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 2/28/2019 1:22 PM

Blake McKay had a game-high 32 points and helped Woodlawn to a Sweet 16 berth after taking down and taking out Gallatin County 53-41 at Gallatin County High School Tuesday night in the 1A Sectional semifinal.

Woodlawn head coach Brian Gamber said his 6-foot-2 junior performed like he has all season for the Cardinals.

"He's a handful. He's a good player," Gamber said of McKay. "We were kind of figuring out how they were going to guard him initially. We didn't know if maybe they were going to back off of him a little bit. Early, and throughout the game, they tried to get tight. They tried to pressure him and it's hard to do that. He's good with the ball, he can obviously attack, he can shoot it. That's the thing that separates him. He's got pull up threes, he can spot and come off screens and hit threes. If you back off, he's got that. If you get tight, you saw how he can create and get to the rim and get other guys involved. He had a big night of scoring but those other guys were able to get some open looks off of just what he is creating. Another thing is, I thought he was an absolute monster on the glass. I'm not sure what he finished with but he had to be double digits. The other guys are doing the dirty work but he's a good athlete. We just talk about him getting in there and just getting it. When he does that, it starts our break and we're able to transition."

Hollenkamp and Spangler each added eight points, while Martin finished with four and Hayden England tossed in a free throw for Woodlawn

There were eight lead changes and six ties in the first half Tuesday night, but Woodlawn held a 15-14 lead after one quarter and took a 24-22 lead at halftime, thanks in part to a closing second shot by McKay in the paint.

It was McKay again in the second half and that gave the Cardinals their biggest lead of the game at 36-29 to start the fourth and Gallatin County could never recover.

Robbie Prince scored a team-high 16 points, while Audie Goebel and Garrett Rushing each netted nine points. Dawson Hish tacked on three points, while Lucas Reeder and Gunner Wilson each tossed in two points.

Gallatin County head coach Jeff Hermann said his team has watched plenty of film on McKay and knew what to expect Tuesday.

"He's just a good player," Hermann said. "We put a guy on him to try to isolate him as much as we could and get the ball out of his hands. We tried to hedge screens and he just has a quick step and was able to get around our hedging really fast. I thought Reeder and Prince did a good job guarding. We didn't jab at him real well, as much as I wanted to. He's just a good player."

Gallatin County held the lead once in the second half, when Goebel gave the Hawks a 26-24 lead on a 3-pointer with 5:40 to play, but the outgoing senior finished under double figures, while playing with the flu, and got the best defense from Woodlawn.

"Audie had a tough night," Hermann said. "I told him to get ready because they're probably going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at you. Woodlawn is well coached and Gamber knows his stuff. We've had some good competitions the last couple of years and between summer ball and the sectional final last year, they guarded Audie well. I thought Robbie stepped up and kind of helped fill a little bit of that void. It just didn't come out that way."

Gallatin County finishes its season at 23-10, while Woodlawn improves to 26-5. The Cardinals will now play either Sesser-Valier or Cairo in the 1A Championship Friday night at Gallatin County, starting at 7 p.m.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.