Boys NCIC champions

Justin Miller
Here I go!: Senior Billy Seiler tries to fake out a Red Devil before taking a shot.

With the last conference game on the line, the Ghosts took the court and delivered a nail-biting 55-52 win at the last second over the Spring Valley Hall Red Devils on Senior Night Friday.

Both teams started sluggish on offense, committing too many turnovers and taking too few shots.

For Illinois Valley Central, senior Terell Williams thrilled the crowd when he laid the hammer down on a dunk midway into the quarter.

Williams led the team in scoring with 19 points.

“Terell Williams was tough,” coach Jim Thornton said. “He stepped up really big tonight.”

By the end of the first quarter, IVC had taken a slim 7-6 lead.

During the second quarter, junior Chris Martin began to make himself a low-post presence on offense, snatching rebounds and turning them into points.

Also making an impact in the quarter was Keegan Horack, whose scrappy play led to many second-chance opportunities for the Ghosts.

Despite players stepping up for IVC, the Ghost offense played sluggish and ended up heading into halftime trailing, 22-17.

After the half, the Ghost offense came out with more of a sense of urgency, as evidenced by Martin making a layup to start the quarter.

The Ghosts and Red Devils matched each other almost shot for shot, including a three pointer knocked down by senior Jordan Parr.

IVC tied Hall late in the quarter when senior Billy Seiler stripped the ball from the Red Devils and took it all the way to the hoop for a layup.

Seiler then made free throw to tie the game at 31.

Hall immediately regained the lead, but the Ghosts tied it again when Parr hit a fadeaway jumper.

The teams entered the final quarter tied at 35.

Early on in the fourth quarter, it became evident that Hall was attempting to slow the game down to keep the ball away from the Ghosts.

IVC overcame the Hall strategy and went up 46-42 when Parr stole the ball and threw an assist to Williams.

“I thought our pressure in the fourth quarter was much better,” Thornton said.

With very few seconds left, Hall tied the game at 52 off a three pointer.

With 14.9 seconds to go, the Ghosts passed the ball around to hold for a last-second shot.

Seiler, who had been clutch all year long for IVC, took the ball and sent home a three pointer as time expired.

“That shot looked good all the way in,” Thornton said.

The Ghosts won the game, 55-52, to end the season with a record of 18-6 and the title of North Central Illinois Conference-Lincoln Division champions.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Hall,” Thornton said. “They played well at both ends.”

Earlier in the week, the Ghosts took on Canton in a matchup of two teams in the upcoming Regional.

The game Feb. 17 started out tight, with neither team able to completely figure out the defense of the other.

Thanks to Seiler’s game-high 25 points, the Ghosts took a 13-7 lead at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was nearly identical to the first, with IVC maintaining a lead but unable to get a strong burst to pull away.

At halftime, the Ghosts were up, 25-13.

After looking for an offensive explosion in the first half, the Ghosts found it right after halftime.

IVC’s offense seemed to sink every shot, while capitalizing on plenty of Canton turnovers on their way to 27 points in the quarter.

Entering the final quarter, the Ghosts were leading, 52-22.

Although Canton outscored the Ghosts in the final quarter, it was not nearly enough to make a dent in the Ghost lead.

IVC won the game, 61-37.

The third-seeded Ghosts (18-6, 9-1) will begin the postseason at 8 p.m. tonight when they take on the second-seeded Peoria Christian at the Canton Regional.