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  • Writer's pictureAaron Ferguson

Quest denied in double overtime loss to Okawville in Class 1A Supersectional

Updated: Oct 1, 2018

The Gators had several chances to earn a state finals berth but were ultimately denied.

Quest's DQ Gilbert walks off the court as Okawville celebrates a 65-64 overtime win to advance to the Class 1A State Finals. (Ron Johnson/Journal Star)

JACKSONVILLE — Quest coach Michael Jenkins said his senior class left a legacy of relentlessness, so even when the Gators looked dead out of water in regulation, overtime and double overtime, it should be no surprise they continued to fight.

Terrell Walker’s attempt at a game-winning shot was blocked by Okawville’s 6-foot-7 Luke Hensler and the Rockets escaped with a 65-64 double-overtime victory at the Class 1A Jacksonville Supersectional on Tuesday night.

Okawville will play Goreville, which beat Moweaqua Central A&M 74-61 in the Carbondale Supersectional, in the state semifinals at Carver Arena at 1 p.m. Friday.

“I thought he hit the one at the end of the first overtime and the one at the end of regulation I thought he had that one there for sure,” Jenkins said of Walker’s play. “I thought we were going home right there and he didn’t have it, but he kept fighting.”

With under a minute left in the second overtime, Quest (26-8) had four opportunities at tying the game at 63 but could not get the ball to go in. Okawville’s Payten Harre sank a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 65-61 on the ensuing possession.

“A lot of times they go in for us that close; you just can’t miss that many opportunities and not put it in the hole and tie it up again,” Jenkins said.

Then Walker stepped into a 3-pointer to bring the Gators within one with 14.9 to play. Quest forced a travel to get the ball back, but Hensler sent Okawville (25-8) back to state for the second straight year.

“I saw him driving down the lane and I knew I couldn’t let him get an easy layup, so I had to take the chance of either blocking it or letting him get a layup, and if I fouled him I had to hope he missed the free throws,” Hensler said.

Avierre Ross and Hensler went at it early on, which allowed their teammates to have success later in the game. Ross scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds before fouling out with 14.5 seconds left in the first overtime to end his career.

“He was really big for us,” said Walker. “He is one of the glue guys of this team. He’s a big guy, he protects the paint, he talks for us; we wouldn’t be here without him.”

Hensler had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the big block to send last year’s 1A state runner-up back to Peoria.

“I had the height advantage on their guys and my teammates were able to recognize that and give me the ball,” said Hensler. “And when I get double-teamed, I try to dish out to my teammates and let them get easy buckets. It just helps when we’re all clicking together as a unit.”

But it wasn’t typical of Okawville’s season to win this type of game, according to coach Jon Kraus.

“Early in the year, we might’ve lost that game,” said Kraus. “This year, we’ve lost eight games and we’ve probably lost five or six where we had good leads and we let them slip.”

The motivating factor behind the Rockets win was the taste of state last season, said Hensler.

Jenkins told his team before the game that he’d take a triple-overtime win by one point, and told them they came up one point short after. But he won’t bet against his players ever again.

“They won a sectional and that’s part of the legacy,” said Jenkins. “But one thing is when the kids tell me, ‘We got this coach,’ I’ll be listening because they told me all year we got this. I was going to be happy with a regional and they just kept going and going and going and winning games, so this group never quit.”

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