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DECATUR -- For 35 minutes, 58.8 seconds, Cade Watson couldn't buy a shot.

The Shelbyville senior was 0 for 6 from the field and 0 for 3 from the free-throw line.

But with 1.2 seconds left in overtime, on the road against St. Teresa, and the game tied at 63-all, Watson got fouled on a drive to the hoop to give him a chance to win the game, and in turn, at least a share of the Central Illinois Conference championship.

Watson drilled the first one and missed the second one off the front iron as time expired to give Shelbyville a 64-63 CIC win against St. Teresa in overtime on Friday night.

“Everybody kept saying, ‘It comes down to this moment. Forget about everything else,'" Watson said. "I just cleared my head and said, ‘All I have to do is make this and it will make up for everything else.’"

Until that point, it was a frustrating night for Watson, who was mobbed by his teammates as time expired.

He missed a pair of free throws with 1:13 left in overtime, which would have given the Rams (20-5, 6-0) a two-point lead.

Watson, who entered the game shooting 39 percent from the free-throw line, slapped the floor after missing his first, then followed it with a miss of the second attempt.

But when he went to the line with a chance to seal the game, he had words of encouragement from everyone.

“I told him it was just me and him shooting free throws in practice," Shelbyville junior guard Malcolm Miller, who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds said. "Every day we’re always partners and we’re always shooting free throws. I told him it was just like practice. He went out and hit one and that was the game."

Shelbyville coach Bob Herdes didn't want to risk a jinx. He drew up a play for after the free throws to block a last-second effort from St. Teresa.

“You don’t say anything to them in that situation," Herdes said. "You just say, ‘After you make the free throws we’re going to do this.’ He’s a great kid, he works hard. He’s not a very good shooter and everyone knows that, but gosh darnit, he came through when it counted."

Both teams were in the double bonus when Watson drove to the hoop looking for a game-winning floater before the foul was called.

“We forced a guy to miss a contested shot at the end," St. Teresa coach Tom Noonan said. "I’m going to have to review the film. I would say 99 percent of games I’ve ever scouted, and there’s 1,000 of them, that call never gets made.

"It’s happened to us a couple times this year where we’ve been called for a foul in the last five seconds of the game where the games I’m seeing elsewhere aren’t getting called."

The Rams had to hang on for dear life to withstand a ferocious St. Teresa (19-5, 5-1) rally.

Shelbyville led by as many as 16 with 3:40 left in the third quarter before the Bulldogs forced overtime after Beau Branyan corralled a rebound and hit a putback with 40 seconds left in regulation.

Even as Shelbyville tried to break away in overtime, the Bulldogs didn't allow it.

Isaiah Bond scored six of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs.

Watson's theatrics were set up by St. Terea's game-tying 3-pointer with 7 seconds left to tie the game at 63-63.

“They did a really good job of scoring the basketball early and our guys did a fantastic job of battling, staying patient, we got to the rim and let their defense break down," Noonan said. "We played Bulldog basketball and we played Bulldog basketball for three quarters and that overtime."

The win couldn't have come at a better time for the Rams.

“I’m super happy for them," Herdes said. "They fought hard, they fought hard, they fought hard and they won the dang gum thing. There was a lot of adversity with Malcolm being out late. That was a big blow for us. We had some people step up and make plays. Kull made a play. I’m so happy I don’t have words for it."

Shelbyville was 2-2 in its last four games, with two losses coming at the Central Illinois Conference Tournament.

“We needed it a lot," Watson said. "We’ve been working in practice about B.Y.A., which means we bring our attitude to every game. We brought it this game for sure. We came to practice thinking we shouldn’t have lost in that conference tournament and we showed it tonight."

Miller, a junior, has been thinking about this moments since the horn sounded after a win against Sullivan on Tuesday. But the dream to win the conference dates back further than that.

“We really needed it," Miller said. "We have been talking about this since my freshman year. This was our goal: to win conference. We slipped up in the tournament and our mission was to win the regular season conference and we’re on path to do that now."

Joey's take

Miller time

Malcolm Miller bailed out the Rams offense time and time again.

When St. Terea's defense looked like it was going to eat up Shelbyville, Miller always found a way to get the ball in his hands.

Then, with 26.3 seconds left in overtime, Miller was relegated to watching from the sidelines after fouling out.

“It’s brutal. I want to be there, but it’s how the game goes sometimes. I probably shouldn’t have (fouled) but I don’t care, we won," Miller said.

Double century

Shelbyville has two players on its roster with 1,000 career points after Turner Pullen scored his in the third quarter. He finished with 17 points.


For all that Bond did for the St. Teresa offense, Cayden Brilley nearly shot the Bulldogs right into a win.

All of his five made field goals came on 3-pointers, finishing with 15 points on five made triples.


Sports Writer

Sports writer for the Herald & Review.

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