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Du Quoin/Pinckneyville boys basketball OT thriller

  • Doug Daniels photoDu Quoin's student section reacts to an Indian bucket in the fourth quarter.

    Doug Daniels photoDu Quoin's student section reacts to an Indian bucket in the fourth quarter.

  • The Pinckneyville bench reacts to a three-pointer by the Panthers.

    The Pinckneyville bench reacts to a three-pointer by the Panthers.
    Doug Daniels photo

  • Maurice Washington spins towards the basket.

    Maurice Washington spins towards the basket.
    Doug Daniels photo

  • Du Quoin's Traijon Smith pulls up for a shot.

    Du Quoin's Traijon Smith pulls up for a shot.
    Doug Daniels photo

  • Panther Kellen Scott puts up a shot against Du Quoin's Maurice Washington.

    Panther Kellen Scott puts up a shot against Du Quoin's Maurice Washington.
    Doug Daniels photo

  • Pinckneyville's Nile Adcock was fouled on his follow through during this three-point attempt at the end of regulation. Adcock hit two of three free throws to force overtime.

    Pinckneyville's Nile Adcock was fouled on his follow through during this three-point attempt at the end of regulation. Adcock hit two of three free throws to force overtime.
    Doug Daniels photo

 
By Geary Deniston
Contributing writer
updated: 3/13/2022 7:08 PM

The rivalry between the Du Quoin Indians and the Pinckneyville Panthers hasn't always been one for the history books. But this season, all three Battles of Beaucoup were won in the second half and/or the fourth quarter.

The Class 2A regional semifinal on Wednesday night was the best of all, as Du Quoin battled higher-seeded Pinckneyville for four solid quarters, while a dangerous sleet storm rained outside Anders Gymnasium.

The game literally came down to the final second of the fourth quarter, with the Indians leading by two points.

The deciding play was a 3-point attempt from the corner by Panther Nile Adcock. It missed, to thundering cheers by the Indian faithful.

But ... a ref's whistle calling a foul stopped the celebration in its tracks, leaving the game's outcome at the free-throw line.

"I just hate that it came down to a call with 0.9 seconds remaining," said Du Quoin Coach Jason James said. "It's a disappointing way to lose when you think you've won."

With three free shots, the Panthers had a chance to win the game there, but Adcock missed one. He hit the other two to tie the score, 55-55, sending the game into overtime, where the Panthers overwhelmed the exhausted Indians and won, 67-57.

Indians fight back from 10 points down

The game was a rollercoaster ride from the beginning, with the Panthers leading 19-13 after the first quarter and the Indians rallying for the first time to tie score, 28-28, at the half.

"It was back and forth all evening and both teams played fantastic," James said.

The Panthers owned the third quarter, taking a six-point lead into the fourth quarter, 42-36, where they increased the lead to 10 points.

At that point it was do or die, and the Indians refused to die.

If the rest of the fourth quarter was put on an ESPN highlight reel the music would build to a crescendo, as Jaden Smith sinks a borderline 3-pointer with nine seconds left to give the Indians a two-point lead.

"We kept chipping away," James said. "We went to our press and caused several turnovers that helped us get back into the game."

But the Panthers, seeded #3, had spent the regular season winning clutch games. It took them eight seconds and a contested shot followed by two clutch free throws to keep the game going into overtime.

The plucky Indians left it all on the court during that fourth quarter and had nothing left in the four-minute overtime period. The Indians ended their season and six seniors ended their high school basketball careers.

"The seniors' effort was outstanding tonight and they gave everything they had," James said. "I thought we played incredibly hard. I'm so proud of the boys."

The OT period was anticlimactic, as the energized Panthers ran away from the Indians. Panther Kellen Scott scored five points, including a 3-pointer, to finish with 24. The rest of the team made 7 of 8 clutch free throws when the Indians had to start fouling.

The only Du Quoin basket came from senior Maurice Washington to give him 21 points and his third game with 20 or more points.

"Survive and advance," said Pinckneyville Coach Bob Waggoner after the win. "Glad to have the opportunity to compete with our team again this Friday.

"We showed a tremendous amount of toughness and character to get the game into overtime and find a way to win. Unbelievable effort!"

Third seed Pinckneyville (23-4) will play second seed Nashville (24-4) for the regional title Friday at 7 p.m. The Hornets beat Red Bud, 64-33, in the other semifinal.

Nashville won both of the regular season games with Pinckneyville, 34-29 on Dec. 21 and 30-26 on Feb. 11.

Meanwhile, Du Quoin finished the season with a 15-15 record.

Washington went into the game averaging 11.5 points a game after scoring just five points against Sparta in the regional quarterfinals.

Senior Caden Hutchens finished with 12 points, including two 3-pointers, for his 12th straight game with 10 or more points and his 21st overall.

Senior Traijon Smith scored 11 points for his ninth straight game with double-digit scoring and his 20th this season. Senior Jaden Smith finished with six points on two 3-pointers, giving him 26 from beyond the arc over the last 15 games.

The other two seniors are Ethan Hill and Hayden Sizemore. A seventh senior, Nick Brown was forced to retire after suffering an injury in the sixth game of the season.

"This group of seniors will be missed," James said. "I appreciate all of their hard work over the years and their dedication to our program. I love those guys!"