Three games decided by a total of 12 points in four total overtime periods.
That sums up the season series between Southwestern and Iowa Central this season.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, Iowa Central came away with the win in Wednesday’s rubber match in the first round of the Region XI Tournament here.
Trailing 61-60 with :06 left in overtime, Southwestern sophomore Marquealis Edwards drove through the lane for a layup attempt, drawing a foul.
Edwards went to the free throw line with :00.9 remaining, and after coming up short on the first attempt, watched as the second attempt rattled around the rim before falling off the side no good, leaving the Southwestern crowd in total disbelief and total silence.
But, it was a stretch in the final 2:00 of regulation that decided the game, according to Southwestern head coach Mike Holmes.
Leading 54-49, Southwestern grabbed a key offensive rebound and had a chance to run off clock, but went for the dagger and turned the ball over, leading to a Jesse Jones 3-pointer with 1:53 left.
Another Spartan turnover on the ensuing possesion led to a Jawad Adekoya basket which tied the game at 54-54, and was the final scoring in regulation.
“Sometimes in a game, the end is the most reflected part, but I think our kind of ‘Waterloo’ came at the end of regulation,” Holmes said. “That’s what we said to Marquealis in the locker room after the game. That game wasn’t lost there on those last free throws. The game was lost at the end of regulation when we had them right where we wanted them and couldn’t put them away.”
Edwards scored a team-high 17 points in the loss.
It was a disappointing end to the season for Southwestern, which finishes 15-15 overall after finishing conference play with a 7-7 record.
The Spartans recorded wins over each of the top three teams in the league and had split the regular season series with Iowa Central.
The Tritons advance to take on top-seeded Iowa Lakes in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday in Ellsworth.
“We had a feeling it was going to come down to something like this with them, and it was going to come down to who made the plays,” Holmes said. “We got what we wanted. We just didn’t make the free throws at the end. Execution, execution. We did what we needed to do to win, and we just didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to.”
The first half saw the Spartans jump out to a 15-6 lead behind the strong play of Edwards and Jack Harrison early.
After the Tritons cut the lead to 15-13, Southwestern got it back to a seven-point margin with 7:41 to go in the half at 21-14.
Iowa Central began cutting into the lead, but sophomore guard Delby Halcomb continued to get free on the offensive end, as Jones struggled to guard him. Halcomb got two reverse layups and drew a foul on another possession to get to the line.
Halcomb scored 11 points in the first half, and finished the game with 16.
But, a 3-point barrage from Iowa Central in the final minutes of the half helped the Tritons take a 34-31 lead into halftime.
Iowa Central knocked down 10 3-pointers in the game.
“They made some big plays and so did we,” Holmes said. “I thought defensively we did enough to win.”
Nine Spartan sophomore played their final game in a Southwestern uniform. Those sophomores were Marcus Littleton, Edwards, Patrick Wright, Brett England, Patrick Negri, Halcomb, Chase Blazek, Devin Kastrup and Trevor Kayser.
“I think what illustrates them the most is they are willing to play the way we want them to play,” Homes said. “It’s really hard in this day and age of AAU basketball and watching the NBA to tell guys, ‘hey, we’re going to control the clock a little bit.’ You need a special group of guys to do that. They played to the best of their abilities. That’s what was really fun about them.
“They really elevated a program that has a lot of obstacles financially, and put them in the upper half of the league.”
IOWA CENTRAL (61) — Jesse Jones 5 0-0 14, Rhys Elliot 5 0-0 13, Jawad Adekoya 5 0-0 12, Jaleel Gray 2 1-2 6, Malik Brooks 2 2-2 6, Casey Sieren 2 0-0 4, David Andersen 1 2-2 4, Chris Tawiah 0 1-2 1. Totals — 22 6-8 61. 3-point goals — 10 (Jones 4, Elliot 3, Adekoya 2, Gray 1). Team fouls — 17. Fouled out — Andersen.
SOUTHWESTERN (60) — Marquealis Edwards 4 8-16 17, Delby Halcomb 7 1-2 16, Devin Kastrup 3 2-2 9, Jack Harrison 4 0-0 8, Patrick Wright 3 2-2 8, Marcus Littleton 1 0-0 2. Totals — 22 13-22 60. 3-point goals — 3 (Edwards 1, Halcomb 1, Kastrup 1). Team fouls — 15. Fouled out — Kastrup.
ICCC — 34 54 61
SWCC — 31 54 60