Illinois Valley Central's seniors ended their regular season careers on a high note.
The basketball team beat Canton, 74-71, in two overtimes at home Feb. 12.
Before the game, which was Senior Night, the senior class of Caleb Magee, AJ Johnson, Konnor Smithson, Luke Schaub, Adam Reginald, Sam reuter and Keegan Gauwitz were honored for their contributions to the program.
"They were huge," coach Joe Mintus said. "They have been huge for us all year. Being a new coach to the program, it would have been really easy for them to not buy into what we are doing but all of them have bought in. They are good mentors to the younger kids and have showed them how hard you have to play every night.
"That's something that we are preaching not to just the varsity team but to the sophomores, freshman and seventh-and-eighth-grade teams. We are a team that has to play hard every night. Our seniors do that. They have never taken a game off and that is a testament to their character and to their parents and the way they were brought up."
The game was up-tempo from the get-go, with both teams rattling off quick shots and scores.
Johnson took the ball coast-to-coast to score unassisted through Canton defenders during the quarter.
After the opening frame, IVC trailed 14-12.
The second quarter found both defenses clamping down more than the first.
IVC's speed and full-court pressure gave the Little Giants fits at times and forced poor shot selection.
Reuter was on fire for the Ghosts and scored at will with snipes from the perimeter and power drives to the hoop.
Reuter led the team with 22 points.
At halftime, Canton led 25-22.
"We just didn't execute real well through the first three quarters," Mintus said. "We didn't guard their screen and roll well and we looked out of rhythm."
The Little Giants continued clicking on the offensive front throughout the third quarter and began to add to the lead.
Heading into the fourth quarter, IVC was trailing 40-33.
The final eight minutes saw Canton continue to play solid offensively.
The Ghosts, however, turned on the gas and exploded for 21 points.
Reilly Owens could not be stopped, in the quarter and game, as he racked up shot after shot over Little Giant defenders.
With three second left, Reuter drove to the hoop and put in the game's tying basket.
The teams ended regulation tied at 54.
The first overtime was back and forth with Canton taking a slim lead near the end.
Page 2 of 2 - At the end of the first overtime, Reuter again came up clutch for IVC and tied the game on a putback shot with 1.8 seconds left.
In the second overtime, the Ghosts put up enough points and kept Canton from responding to secure the victory.
The Ghosts next play at 6 p.m. Monday at home against Dunlap in the Regional.
"We are going to try to get our legs back under us and get some rest," Mintus said. "We aren't going to be working on anything extreme. We are just preparing to play Dunlap. We have to do some different things to beat them this time around. We just have to get ready for that game because it is one game at a time now."