The Super Sectional game is Tuesday night, March 7th in Carbondale, IL at 7:30pm. Marquette will take on the Mt. Carmel. On Explorers!
NASHVILLE, ILL. • There's a reason Alton Marquette sophomore Isaiah Ervin earned the nickname, "Buckets."
"He just makes big shots, one after another," explained junior teammate Jake Hall.
Buckets was at his twine-tickling best on Friday.
The soft-spoken guard triggered a third-quarter explosion that helped Marquette rally for a 55-48 win over Nashville in the championship game of the Class 2A Nashville Sectional at Assembly Hall.
The Explorers (30-3) captured the first sectional title in school history and will face Mount Carmel (26-4) in the Carbondale Super-Sectional at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at SIU Arena.
Ervin hit a pair of 3-pointers and recorded a steal and layup in a 2-minute, 13-second span in the third quarter to turn the game around.
Nashville (20-13) used its size to roll out to a 30-20 lead early in the third. The Hornets had a raucous home crowd and momentum on their side.
Until Ervin snatched it away with help from juniors Reagan Snider and Sammy Green.
"We were on the verge of being out of it," Marquette coach Steve Medford said. "Then they just went out and turned it around. It feels good."
Marquette put together an NBA-like 18-2 blitz in a span of 3:49 in the third period to turn the 10-point deficit into a 38-32 cushion.
Snider, who finished with a game-high 20 points, got the ball rolling with a triple and Chris Hartrich added a steal and layup to close the deficit to 30-25. Snider chipped in with another bomb before Green tied the game with a short jumper off a steal by Bryce Pettiford.
Ervin, who had 11 points, then took over with his eight-point personal outburst that ended with a steal and layup.
"I knew we had to do something," Ervin said. "We just wanted to get something going."
Snider felt like his team was ready to turn it around in the third period after a serious tough-lashing from Medford at halftime.
"He got into us pretty good," Snider said.
Marquette kept the lead between five and seven points until the final minutes when Nashville climbed to within 48-46 on a basket by Brogan Kemp.
But Snider scored eight points in the final minute, including an old-fashioned 3-point play that put the contest away.
"We didn't do a very good job with the tempo in the first half," Medford said. "But when we got it rolling, wow."
The Explorers also found their shooting touch in the third period hitting on five of six 3-pointers after missing eight of 11 over the first two quarters.
"We really didn't have much doubt that we would put together a run," Snider said. "This is a pretty confident team."
Marquette is on a history-making run after setting the school mark for most wins in a campaign.
Now, a season to remember has a few more chapters.
"I'm just so happy for these kids because they really wanted this," Medford said. "They do things the right way. They work hard, they prepare like heck. I'm so darn proud of them."
Nashville used the muscle of Kemp, who finished with 14 points, to bolt out to a 22-9 lead in the second period.
The Hornets held a 26-17 advantage at the break and quickly pushed the lead to 10 before the Explorers broke loose.
"They turned up the heat and we coughed it up several times and they converted on it," Nashville coach Brad Weathers said. "They hit some tough shots and threw us out of our combination defense."
Marquette, which has won 22 of its last 23, has taken the long road to the elite eight, beating Gibault and Nashville in their own gyms.
"I think that goes to show just how much we want this," Snider said.