EFFINGHAM — Cody Rincker's day on March 11, 2017, included a birthday serenade from a large group of Effingham St. Anthony fans, but that wasn't the best part.
Following a Drew Gibson basket with 31 seconds to break a tie in overtime, St. Anthony held on to beat Okawville 49-46 in the Class 1A boys basketball state title game. Even with its rich history in the sport, it was St. Anthony's first boys basketball state title, and the No. 5 Herald & Review sports story in 2017.
"That's pretty special — pretty fun," said Rincker on his 29th birthday. "I'm glad they were able to do that and enjoy it. I couldn't ask for much better, that's for sure."
The game-winning shot capped an all-state season for Gibson.
"It's a crazy feeling," Gibson said. "You can't really describe it. We've been working for this all year and it eventually paid off. I just can't wait to celebrate."
St. Anthony began the season 21-1, but stumbled late with a loss to Casey-Westfield — part of a stretch in which the Bulldogs lost four of six to end the regular season.
But St. Anthony re-captured the magic in the postseason, beating Patoka for its first sectional title since 2001, then coming from 13 points down at half to beat Woodlawn 52-50 at the Southern Illinois University Super-sectional to make state for the first time since 1978.