By michael boyd jr.
CRYSTAL CITY — Clayton Drury received the pass in the left corner, then drove the baseline to place what ended up being the district-winning jumper that brought his teammates and the Valle Catholic fanbase to an estatic celebration Saturday night.
Drury’s shot with 37.3 seconds left in the game put the top-seeded Warriors up for good against second-seeded New Haven after a seesaw matchup that had 15 total lead changes.
Senior Aiden Heberlie then hit two clutch free throws with 7.3 seconds remaining to seal the championship, 52-49, of the MSHSAA Class 2 District 4 boys’ basketball tournament at CCHS’s Arvel B. Popp Gymnasium.
But the traditional state-powerhouse Shamrocks (14-14) were not going down without a fight as they launched two 3-point attempts, including one at the buzzer that rimmed out.
The Warriors (16-10) all jumped in the air with celebration on the court. It was their second straight district title and third in the last four seasons.
The game was close — the entire way as the largest lead was four points — twice by New Haven in the fourth quarter — keeping both proud fan bases on the edge of their seats throughout with plenty to say, good or not-so-good. Tempers flared on the court a few times as well from the physicality of play, but no major fouls were called. Every change in leads happened after the first quarter.
The Warriors led 12-8 after one quarter, 24-22 at halftime, 37-36 heading into the final frame and almost went to overtime. However, they were just 14 of 24 from the foul line.
Valle now advances to the Class 2 sectional at Jackson High to face the Bernie Mules (26-1) at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 2. The only way to purchase the $7 sectional tickets is online at MSHSAA.org.
The Mules are from a deeper part of southeast Missouri that plays the uptempo pace of hoops notorious with that region. They have won 17 straight games, including the District 3 title last Friday as the top seed over second-seeded Advance Hornets, 65-36.
C. Drury finished with six points, including a 3-pointer. Heberlie scored a game-high 16 points, while Chase Fallert and Harry Oliver both added nine points. Sam Drury had eight points. The Warriors
Heberlie and Fallert both were selected to the C2D4 all-district tournament boys’ team.