Central Catholic in Class 2A and Lexington in Class 1A picked up the men’s basketball section championship victories on Friday.
The Saints beat Quincy Notre Dame 57-51 in the Olympia Section title game behind 32 points from second-placed Cole Certa, while Lexington beat Decatur St. Teresa 43-36 in the Watseka Section.
The Saints (20-15) mounted a strengthened second-half defense to victory after trailing by six at halftime.
“I told our guys we had to stop,” Central Catholic coach Jason Welch said. “They extended their lead to 10, but we started to slowly reduce in the third quarter. We sped them up a bit. When we did, we were able to flip them over and that led to easy buckets. Then we froze the game at the free throw line.
Central Catholic will face Monticello in Monday’s 6 p.m. super section at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield.
Certa scored 16 points in each half and had 13 of the Saints’ 15 points in the third quarter.
“Our guys found it,” Welch said. “When he has his feet on the ground and under him, he can shoot. I’m really proud of him for growing up in a great environment and doing a great job.
Chase Fisher added eight points for Central Catholic. Jackson Stratton and Braden Sheffield each had 14 points for QND.
“It was a home and away game like you would think in a section final,” Welch said. “Our defense was not what we wanted. But we managed to make a few stops at the end, and those stops made the difference.
Lexington won its first section championship since 1999 and will face No. 1-ranked Yorkville Christian in a super section match Monday at 6 p.m. at Illinois State’s Redbird Arena.
The Minutemen scored the final seven points to move to 24-12. A layup and 3-pointer from Ben Peacock broke a tie of 36.
“The defense won us the game,” Lexington coach Doug Yoder said. “It was an incredible race.”
Peacock finished with 17 points and Alec Thomas added 11. Billy Guyse led St. Teresa (19-9) with 18 points.
El Paso – Gridley
The No. 4-ranked Titans’ dream season ended with a 51-46 loss to No. 6 Monticello at the 2A Clifton Central Sectional.
Monticello (31-3) led 23-17 at halftime and connected 17 of 22 free throws at 8 of 9 for EPG, which was eliminated at 28-3.
Asa Smith led the Titans with 17 points. Jake Funk added 16 and Luke Ihlenfeldt nine.
Tanner Buehnerkemper led the Sages with 13 points. Ben Cresap and Trevor Fox each had 11.