MOUNT ZION -- Mount Zion needed to take its chance when it had 20 seconds and possession to go for the winning shot in the first overtime.

Because double overtime came up all Hearts.

But the Braves didn't get off a shot and missed every attempt they took to be shut out of the second overtime as Effingham won, 93-80, Friday. 

Jacob Donaldson, who'd only scored seven points in regulation, put up eight points in the overtime periods, including a 3-pointer to give the Hearts a two-possession lead in the second extra period.

That was the big shot, coach Ron Reed said, in helping the Hearts win the Apollo Conference championship for the fifth straight year of at least sharing it.

"I thought that 3 was kind of what separated (us) and kind of got them in a panic mode maybe a little bit," Reed said.

But it was the Braves who had a chance to win it in the first overtime.

They took over possession in a tied, 80-80, game with about 20 seconds to go.

Jonah Smith folded over on the ground in pain in front of the scorers' table after making a pass early in the possession. Play continued and nobody took a shot before Effingham deflected a pass out of bounds as time expired.

It reminded Mount Zion coach Bryon Graven a lot of his team's game against MacArthur on Jan. 31, when the Braves had the ball in a tie game at the end of regulation, didn't get a shot up and then lost in overtime.

Smith, who scored 26 points, may have been one to take the shot had he not sprained his ankle on the play.

His 3-pointer from the Mount Zion logo stamped near the sideline sent the game to overtime in the first place.

"Both of those situations, overtime games like that against a really good team, we haven't been there," Graven said. "We want to shoot shots down six with a minute and a half left when it's only worth three points and there is no six-point jump shot. But when it comes down to making a play at the end of a game, nobody wants to shoot it. 

"Here, I don't want it. You take it."

Smith didn't initially come back out to play in the second overtime. But even when he did return, the Braves had nothing left.

All in the second overtime, Nate Ewing missed a couple of open layups; Ryan Kernan, who was playing in Smith's place, missed a layup and was called for a five-second violation; and Kevin Cox, who scored 31 points, missed a dunk.

"I thought we really dug in and was able to get a big stop there and send it into that second overtime," Reed said. "It was really, I thought, a real gritty performance from our kids."

Alex's take

Those 20 seconds

Effingham played Mount Zion five on four after Smith went down early in the final possession of the first overtime -- a really perplexing series of events.

Graven didn't have a timeout to use to stop the game, and he said the officials weren't required to blow their whistles either. Keep in mind, Mount Zion still possessed the ball all the way through the buzzer.

Also, though, it's possible no one noticed him.

"I don't know if anyone knew he was down," Graven said. "I didn't know he was down."

End of regulation

After Smith's 3 tied the game at 75-all in the last minute of the fourth quarter, Effingham had a chance with possession to end it.

But Mount Zion had a strategic advantage. The Braves had only committed three team fouls in the second half up to the point when Effingham inbounded the ball for its last possession of regulation.

The Braves did all they could to chop that possession into pieces. It worked. They committed three intentional fouls to drain the clock to six seconds left, when Grant Wolfe settled for a hurried jumper that missed.

Battle of bigs

Cox and Landon Wolfe put on a showcase of athletic posts. Wolfe scored 36 points to better Cox's total of 31.

Cox made his first five shots of the game, scoring 11 points in the first quarter, but missed all four attempts in the overtimes.

Wolfe finished hot. He made his last nine shots, including five baskets for 11 points in the fourth quarter.

"There's a lot of, I thought, individual efforts from both teams going on," Reed said. "I thought Cox was just tremendous around the bucket and Landon to answer him. Smith was answering some runs we had, with deep 3s.

"It was a whale of a game but sure was nerve-wracking for a coach."


Effingham was badly out-rebounded in the first quarter -- largely by Cox alone -- and trailed by nine points, 22-13.

The Hearts crashed the boards harder from the second quarter on, and it helped them climb back into contention. They trailed by only three at halftime and were tied, after five lead changes, entering the fourth quarter.

"We gave up offensive rebounds in the first half and let them back in the game after we were up nine," Graven said. "It's little things that add up to big things that get you beat."

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