Steve Dillard had a rough first half Friday night.
The Beloit Turner junior and the Rock Valley Conference’s third-leading scorer failed to tally a single point.
He more than made up for in the second half.
Dillard hit a 3-pointer as time expired to lift the Trojans to a 47-45 conference win over Evansville.
“I didn’t do anything to help my team the first half, but my job is to just keep shooting and that’s what I did,” Dillard said. “It seems like when one goes in, then the next one goes in and so on, and that’s what led to the game-winner.”
Turner (3-1, 2-1) trailed by nine points with 13 minutes left but stormed back behind Dillard and Dai’Vontrelle Strong, who combined for 18 of the Trojans’ 22 second-half points.
Evansville (3-2, 2-1) took a 45-44 lead with 12 seconds left on Zach Mielke’s free throw, but Dillard drilled the game-winner as the buzzer sounded.
“I knew there wasn’t much time left to shoot it, but if I’m open, I’m going to shoot it,” Dillard said. “The last open shot I had just happened to come at the end of the game.”
Evansville trailed by one at half but stormed out of the locker room and quickly built a nine-point lead. Mielke, who came into the game leading the RVC in scoring at 21.2 points per game, had 10 of his team-high 14 in the second half. His three-point play with 13:01 left gave the Blue Devils a 36-27 lead.
Sulley Geske added 11 points for Evansville, but he turned his ankle with 5:24 to play and had to leave the game. He did not return.
Evansville co-head coach Kendall Buttchen said Geske’s injury was costly but didn’t decide the outcome.
“It was a fun high school basketball game for us until the very end,” Buttchen said. “We make a nice stop on the drive to the basket, but the ball gets tipped out and right into the hands of their best shooter. That’s how the ball bounces sometimes.
“Both teams battled, and it was obviously a game of runs. We came out on the short end of the stick, but we’ll learn from this.”
Strong finished with a game-high 18 points, while Dillard scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
TURNER 47, EVANSVILLE 44
Evansville (44)—Maag 2-2-6; Geske 3-2-11; Mielke 4-6-14; Townsend 2-0-5; Wardwell 1-0-2; Bergum 2-1-5; Mayer 0-2-2. Totals; 14-13-44.
Turner (47)—Reyes 3-0-7; Wash Jr. 1-0-2; Strong 8-1-18; Dillard 4-0-11; Ferone 2-1-5; Majeed 1-0-2; Tinder 0-2-2. Totals: 19-4-47.
Evansville 24 21—45
Beloit Turner 25 22—47
Three-point goals—Evansville 4 (Geske 3, Townsend), Turner 5 (Dillard 3, Reyes, Strong). Free throws missed—Evansville 8, Turner 5. Total fouls—Evansville 9, Turner 20.