Wesclin wins overtime battle with Du Quoin at Okawville Tournament

Video highlights from Du Quoin vs. Wesclin. (Doug Daniels Video)

Braeden Pursell led Du Quoin with 20 points. (Doug Daniels Photos)

By Doug Daniels
1351sports.com / duquoinsports.com

January 19, 2018

  (Okawville, Ill.) - For the second time in a month, Du Quoin suffered a one-possession loss to Wesclin High School (Trenton) on Thursday night at the Okawville Mid-Winter tournament, this time taking the Warriors to overtime before falling 68-66 after Braeden Pursell's buzzer-beater attempt at a three-pointer was off the mark.
  "In the first half, when we'd get them to miss, we were giving up second-chance opportunities," said DHS head coach Justin Barrington. "That's something we can't have happen, but give our kids credit, they battled the entire time. They worked their butts off for us and battled for 36 minutes tonight. At the horn, we got a look that we live with every time. Brian Winters came off the bench and gave us some really good minutes. Hank Stewart gave us some minutes, Ashton Smith battled through an ankle injury, Braeden Pursell had 20 points which gave us a big lift, Josh Heape gave us his usual output."
  "We've got to do a better job of getting to the free throw line. They doubled us up at the free throw line, they shot almost as many free throws in the overtime as we shot in the whole game. I thought we did a pretty good job of attacking, we just weren't getting to the line as much as I would have liked."
  A 10-0 run by the Warriors in the second period gave them their biggest lead of the night at 27-12, but Du Quoin scored the last seven points of the first half to cut the lead to eight heading into the break despite enduring a barrage of four Wesclin three-pointers in the first sixteen minutes of action.
  "We missed some layups in transition in the first half that we usually hit, and that dug us a hole, but in the second half we eliminated those misses and we started converting and hitting shots," Barrington said. "Their length bothered us a little in the first quarter, the second quarter was better."
  The Indians still trailed by seven midway through the third quarter when Josh Heape connected for three and Hank Stewart followed with a runner to cut Wesclin's lead down to two with 2:20 left in the period. A little over a minute later, after two free throws by Brian Winters, Stewart put in two more to tie the game for the first time since it was 5-5 in the first quarter.

  Wesclin went back up by two moments later, and again with just 5 seconds left in the third, but at the horn, Pursell was fouled on a three-point attempt and headed to the line with no time on the clock. The sophomore knocked down all three shots to put Du Quoin out in front 42-41 heading to the fourth.
  Pursell, who finished the night with 20 points, continued to sizzle early in the final frame, scoring on a stick-back and a transition layup on Du Quoin's first two possessions to make it 46-41. Wesclin's Nate Brede then hit the first of his two threes in the fourth quarter, and then tied the game with two free throws with 6:13 to go in regulation.
  Brandon Courtney put the Warriors back out in front with a conventional three-point play, and with under three minutes remaining Wesclin was clinging to a 52-50 advantage when Pursell turned the tide with a three of his own. Brede answered it, however, hitting from downtown to swing the momentum once more.
  Heape tied it with a driving layup with two minutes left in the fourth, then each team would hit two free throws to leave the score tied at 57-57 with 31.7 on the clock. Each team then had a shot to end it in regulation, but couldn't connect.
  Free throws gave Wesclin the first lead of the OT, but Heape hit a three with 2:08 to go to give the Indians the advantage. But once more, the Warriors had an answer, as Hunter Ottensmeier hit the seventh three ball of the night for Wesclin just twenty seconds later.
  Du Quoin's Lamontay Daughtery then fouled out of the game with 1:15 to go, and the resulting free throws put the Warriors up four. The Indians kept fighting, however, trading a bucket for two free throws three times before Wesclin finally missed at the line with five ticks on the clock. 
  With the length of the floor to go, the Indians drew up a play and got Pursell a shot near the top of the key, but the potential game-winner wouldn't go down.
"One thing I really liked was our guys were not settling, we continued to attack," Barrington said. "Sometimes when you get down, you settle for a jump shot. Our guys weren't doing that, we were getting to the rim, getting the finishes we wanted. Another minute on that clock, the ball game may be different. That's twice we've had that happen against these guys. Hopefully we get to see them again, because that means we're both playing deep into the postseason."
Heape (15 points) and Stewart (12) joined Pursell in double figures for DHS. Daughtery finished with 8 points, Will Woodside 5, Ashton Smith 4 and Winters 2.
Du Quoin (9-10) will take on tournament host Okawville (15-4) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.


© 2018-19 Doug Daniels Photography