When Sayre senior guard Robbie Goodman swung around and took a hand off from teammate Will Newton in the left corner of the court, he paused a beat and sized up the basket. His trailing defender hadn’t reached him yet. There was 1:41 left in the game.
His dad, Spartans Coach Robert Goodman, thought: “No, no, no.”
His teammate, Sayre leading scorer Jake Duby thought: “If you shoot it, you better make it,” he said afterward.
But doubt never entered Robbie Goodman’s mind.
“The second it left my hands I knew it was in.” he said of his only three-point attempt in the game. “And when it went through the net, it was just pure excitement.”
The basket put Sayre up 50-46 and proved to be the biggest moment in the game. Madison Southern’s efforts to draw close in the final minute went astray and the Spartans won 56-48 in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament at Eastern Kentucky’s Paul S. McBrayer Arena Wednesday night.
“I’m really happy for Robbie,” his dad said. “He’s such a hard worker. He’s part of that group that has put in so much time and effort to get this program to the point it’s at. I’m happy for all the guys …
“I can assure you I was yelling ‘no, no, no’ when he shot it, but it went in, and I was like: ‘That’s an outstanding shot!”
Madison Southern senior Caleb Miller hit a jumper moments later to cut the lead back to 50-48, but Sayre’s Kaden Silverburg, Goodman and Newton hit all six of their free throws to close out the game amid the Eagles’ rushed misses late.
“I couldn’t imagine a better season from start to finish,” Duby, also a senior, said. “Being able to do this with your best friends is a great feeling. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Moments earlier, Madison Southern (26-6) led by four as junior guard Shawn Short scrambled after his own missed three-pointer to tip it in for a 45-41 lead with 5:15 to play.
But on the ensuing possession, Eagles’ standout point guard Michael Jefferson picked up his fourth foul and had to be subbed. Sayre took the opportunity to step up its full court pressure, getting two steals, two fouls and four consecutive free throws to tie the game 45-45 with 4:02 left.
“They played harder than we did,” said Madison Southern Coach Shane Buttry, who led the team to its second 44th District title and its best record in school history. “(Michael) getting in foul trouble hurt us. They stepped the pressure up. And we didn’t make shots and they did. Really, it boils down to that. I hate it, but we’ve had a heck of a year.”
Madison Southern had a chance to regain the lead when Jefferson was fouled with 3:05 remaining. But he missed both free throws, and junior forward R.J. Smith put the Spartans back up 47-45 with 2:51 left. Smith led Sayre with 16 points.
In a game that featured eight ties and 12 lead changes, Madison Southern held the biggest edge when Miller’s three-pointer put the Eagles up 14-6 in the second period. Sayre’s Jake Duby, who finished with 15 points, answered seconds later with his own three only to see Madison Southern forward Bryar Rose push the lead back out to eight again at 17-9 with 5:58 left. Miller led the Eagles with 18 points.
Sayre (23-9) climbed back into it as Madison Southern committed seven turnovers and made only three of nine shots in the remaining time, turning the eight-point deficit into a two-point lead, 25-23, at halftime.
The Spartans did much of their damage at the free-throw line going 19-of-22 in the game. Meanwhile, Madison Southern hurt itself from the three-point line, making only 6-of-29 from beyond the arc.
The win gives Sayre only its third 11th Region semifinals appearance, and it’s first since 1998.
“I think everybody thought we were done when we upset Henry Clay, but I got to tell you, it took just the same kind of effort tonight to upset a great Madison Southern team,” Coach Goodman said. “For a few moments there, they were outrebounding us and out-scrapping us, and we called a timeout and just told our guys ‘hey, you want to win this game, it’s all about heart, desire and getting the rebounds, getting the loose balls, and if you want to win it, that’s what we’ve got to do.’
“They stepped up.”
Sayre 56, Madison Southern 48
Sayre (56): Duby 15, Newton 6, Silverburg 7, Goodman 8, Smith 16, Bowie 4.
Madison Southern (48): Marshall 2, Rose 9, Miller 18, Jefferson 11, Short 3, Boggs 3, Rogers 2.
Boys’ 11th Region quarterfinals at EKU
6:30 p.m.: Scott Co. (27-5) vs. Frankfort (11-21)
8:15 p.m.: Lexington Christian (23-8) vs. Madison Central (18-14)