GIBSON CITY — Senior guard Jake Kaeding drilled a 3-point shot from the top of the key in the closing seconds, allowing Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School to escape with a 55-52 win over Fisher Tuesday night in the semifinal round of the Gibson City Class A Regional.
Kaeding entered the game as one of the leading 3-point shooters in the area.n;He exited a hero after nailing his biggest 3-pointer of the year.
"Hitting a game-winner like that is what every basketball player dreams of," Kaeding said.n; "It was definitely pretty sweet."
The Falcons, who have won 19 of their last 20 games, will take a 24-3 record to the regional title game Friday night against the winner of tonight's matchup between Lexington and Maroa-Forsyth. Fisher ended the year at 14-15.
The victory was the Falcons' fourth of the season over Fisher and the second in the last four days.n;GCMS defeated the Bunnies 61-50 Friday night in the regular-season finale.
The three previous games were not decided until the final three minutes.n;Tuesday night's game wasn't decided until the final three seconds.
Fisher's Kyle Wantland, the Bunnies' leading scorer with 17 points, hit a turnaround jump shot to tie the hard-fought contest at 52 with just under two minutes to play.
GCMS then patiently held the ball, taking time off the clock until Coach Ryan Tompkins called a timeout with 14.5 seconds left to set up Kaeding's winning shot.
"We had some different options and I really debated on what we were going to run," Tompkins said.n; "In a tight game like that, you might think youâ'd go for a shot a little closer to the basket, but I thought they were really going to key on Brett (Petersen), so we got an open look for Jake."
Kaeding said Fisher defended the play well, but the defender guarding him slipped, allowing him an uncontested shot at the basket.
"When the kid slipped, I just stepped aside with confidence and it went in," he said.
Kaeding ended with 17 points. Petersen, the Falcons' leading scorer on the year at 16.0 points per game, once again paced GCMS with 19 points.
Several of Petersen's buckets came at crucial points in the contest.
"When we needed shots he hit some big ones in the paint," Tompkins said.
After leading 13-12 at the end of the first quarter and 30-24 at the half, GCMS appeared poised to break the game open in the third quarter.
A turnaround by Petersen with 5:25 to go in the quarter opened up a 35-26 advantage for the Falcons, their biggest of the night.n;They also led by nine at 40-31 at the three-minute mark of the period.
Led by Wantland, Fisher refused to let the Falcons get away and after narrowing the margin to 44-39 at the end of three quarters, the Bunnies mounted a fourth-quarter comeback which would put them in the lead at 50-49 with 4:42 remaining.
In running time off the clock, however, the Bunnies committed a costly turnover with just 2:14 left.
Petersen took advantage of the turnover with a lay-in and free throw with a little over two minutes to play to put GCMS up 52-50, before Wantland answered with his turnaround jumper at the 1:55 mark.
That set the stage for Kaeding.
"I'm a senior so if I miss that and they have another chance, the season could be over," Kaeding said.