SESSER — It seems a different player steps up in every Goreville High School girls basketball game. Allison Sullivan took a turn Monday night.
The senior guard hit a pair of key 3-pointers and scored 15 points to help lead the Lady Blackcats to a 63-57 win over Sesser-Valier-Waltonville in front of a packed house.
"She hit a couple of shots that turned the tide," said Goreville coach Mike Helton. "Sometimes she tries to thread the needle too much, but she always gets some nice steals and runs the break well. She's been a kid who always comes through in big games."
Goreville is now 26-1 overall and clinched the Black Diamond West title with a 9-0 record. The Lady Blackcats can make it a clean sweep with a win over Elverado on Wednesday night.
Sesser-Valier-Waltonville, which fell to 21-3 with a pair of losses to Goreville and one to Benton as the only blemishes, jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first quarter with Rae Lappin scoring eight of her game-high 24 points.
But six free throws by Alison Webb and 3-pointers by Jessica Wright and Sullivan helped tie the game at 14 before the end of the period. Sullivan had another trey and six total points in the second quarter and the game remained knotted at the half, 27-all.
"We felt pretty good at halftime," said S-V-W coach Rick Metcalf. "We went brain dead a few times and they went backdoor on us. I thought the difference in the game was how they went to the boards."
Goreville's Brittney Pritchett, playing on an injured ankle, buried two 3-pointers and scored all eight of her points in the third quarter, when S-V-W's Rachel Marlo also dropped in eight of her 12 points.
The Lady Blackcats took a three-point edge into the fourth quarter at 47-44 and pulled away with a 10-2 run that included some textbook fast breaks and a 3-point bomb by Taylor Odom.
Webb scored off a nice pass from Wright, who then scored after an Odom block and added another layup on a perfectly-ran break to make it 59-49 with 1:20 remaining.
"We have been very destructive at the end of games," Helton said. "When it gets late, we're still able to rebound it and run the floor. We just seem to be mentally stronger. When it gets late, we're able to make plays down the stretch and slam the door."
S-V-W pulled to within five points on a 3-pointer by Lappin with 24 seconds left, but it was too late. Sullivan made two free throws with 20.6 ticks remaining to ice it.
"It got to a point where we were in a gambling mode," Metcalf said. "They missed some wide-open threes and took the shots we wanted them to take, but we came down and couldn't convert."
Page 2 of 2 - In addition to Sullivan's 15 points, Webb finished with 13 and pulled down eight rebounds with five steals. Wright finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals and Odom had nine points with five boards for Goreville, which went 17 of 29 from the charity stripe.
Lappin led all scorers with 24 points and was joined in double figures by teammates Chelsea Miller and Marlo with 12 each. The Lady Red Devils made 12 of their 18 free throws.
Helton was glad to see his team win a close game with the postseason tipping off next week.
"You want a handful of these," Helton said. "Maybe not one every night, but you want these to learn how to dig one out. You're going to have to do that in the postseason and you want to be mentally prepared for that."