DECATUR — All the work that Springfield Southeast did to create separation against Springfield Lanphier was vanishing.
The Lions went on a 6-0 run during a two-minute span midway through the fourth quarter to trim a lead that got as high as eight points to just three with 4:01 remaining in the Class 3A Decatur (Eisenhower) Sectional championship Friday night.
Then, with 3:51 left in the game, Kobe Medley delivered a 3-pointer from the right corner in front of his bench to re-extend the lead to six points for Southeast on the way to a 51-42 win over Lanphier to advance to Tuesday's super-sectional against Marion.
Lanphier never got closer than six points for the remainder of the game.
“All I saw was the ball, the basket and the net," said Medley, who finished with six points. "I thought about how hard we worked and I put everything into my shot. I put all my techniques and everything I’ve been taught to shoot in that shot and I stepped up and hit the shot.
“When I hit that shot, I felt a lot of fire from our crowd, from my teammates and from everybody. It gave us the extra boost to get the job done."
It was his second basket of a game, and the first since he connected on a trey with 5:03 left in the first quarter. He finished 2 of 5 from the field, all 3-point attempts.
“It was huge because Kobe didn’t play up to his standards," Springfield Southeast coach Lawrence Thomas said of the shot. "He was ready to shoot and he knocked it down. That’s what he’s been doing for us the whole year. That was the biggest shot of the game."
If there was any doubt remaining about Southeast advancing to its second super-sectional appearance in three years, junior standout Anthony Fairlee expunged it with 51 seconds left in the game.
Fairlee, who had 11 points and 16 rebounds, soared through the air, caught a pass from Terrion Murdix (15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 7 steals), and flushed it home to erase it and all but send the Spartans (27-3) to Tuesday's super-sectional at the Bank of Springfield Center.
“I looked at everybody’s face and I was like, ‘Oh yeah? It’s over,'" Fairlee said. “I had a pretty good feeling after that because I saw heads get down and I saw the crowd start leaving, too."
Lanphier's (26-4) fourth-quarter revival was sparked by Cardell McGee's five points in the first four minutes of the quarter, before fouling out with 2:32 left. He had 13 points, three rebounds and four steals.
The Spartans led 24-21 at halftime and outscored Lanphier 10-5 in the third quarter.
"We had some opportunities that we didn’t quite take advantage of and the ball didn’t bounce our way a couple times," Lanphier coach Blake Turner said. "We had our hands on some loose balls that we didn’t get, but I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. They beat us, man. That’s a great team over there."
Southeast had 22 turnovers and Lanphier had 25 of its own.
Thomas knew the turnovers were more a product of environment than an indictment on his team . It was the third meeting between the two, with Southeast winning all three matchups.
“The inter-city competition, the magnitude of the game and kids, they know what the coaching staff is asking of them, but they get out here and try to do it by themselves sometimes," Thomas said of the turnovers. "You’ve just got to settle down, trust your teammates, trust what you’ve been practicing and execute your game plan."
Michael Tyler, who had a big game against MacArthur in the regional championship, finished with 10 points, three rebounds and six blocks for the Spartans.
Lanphier out-rebounded Southeast 35-32, and hauled in 17 offensive rebounds, but only scored six second-chance points.