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Maclayne Taylor's buzzer beater advances SJO at State Farm Classic

A lot coaches stress how you finish is all that matters.

That turned out to be the case yesterday at the conclusion of the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball game against the Lady Panthers of Central-Southeastern (CSE), a coop between Central and Southeastern high school from west-central Illinois.

With less than 4 seconds left on the clock, Maclayne Taylor scooped up an inbound pass from Bree Trimble inside the free throw circle and took the last shot of the game. The ball bounced off the glass and through the rim as the buzzer sounded to give SJO a 51-50 overtime victory at the State Farm Classic on Thursday.

Four of Taylor's 6 points in the game were made in the extra quarter at Bloomington High School.

"I didn't know if we would get the ball back," said Spartan head coach Kevin Taylor as he witness CSE's Leah Turner tipped the ball away from his Maclayne, who is also his daughter. "It was a big relief when it went in."

Earlier in the game, the Spartans fought hard to finish the half with a one-point lead after a two-point deficit at the end of the opening quarter. By the end of the third quarter, SJO led 34-27. The 7-point lead would soon be erased and the two teams traded blows like championship UFC fighters to a draw at the end of regulation time.

"They are a well-discipline, well-coach team," Coach Taylor said praising Matt Long, the opposing coach with nearly 500 wins to his credit, and his team. "They ran good plays and good sets. They are well-organized."

In overtime, neither team could gain a clear advantage. CSE, the #8 seed, led 50-49 with less than 4 seconds to play. Taylor's quick reaction to recover the ball and put it in the air was the perfect finish.

"I hope the fire and momentum keeps going," said Coach Taylor. The Spartans advance to a semifinal showdown against Illini Prairie Conference foe Bloomington Central Catholic late this afternoon. "It doesn't get any easier."

SJO will also face the Saints again in league play in their final home contest of the season. That game will likely be for the IPC title. Meanwhile, the winner of today's contest will play for the small school title on Saturday. The loser will have a shot at third-place honors.

SJO's offensive effort was led by senior Peyton Crowe with 14 points. Trimble, who was scoreless in the first quarter, finished the game with 13 points. Hannah Dukeman rounded out the Spartans top three scorers with 8 points. Sophomore starter Payton Vallee matched Taylor with 6 points.

The Lady Panthers were led by Laney Lantz and her game-high 27 points. Alivia Lantz added another 11 points and Leah Turner chipped in 6 more.

CSE moves to the consolation bracket to face Rock Falls.

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