If the shots would have fallen for Eldorado in the first 37 minutes like they did the last, the Eagles postseason dreams would still be alive.
Instead, the ballon was busted by West Frankfort as the Redbirds escaped Duff-Kingston Gymnasium with a 61-56 victory.
Trailing by double digits late in the game, Eldorado began a furious comeback keyed by a jumper by Matt Pena, who came off the bench, for some relief.
The relief seemed to have loosened up the rest of his gang. In the last minute of action, Eldorado got three huge 3-pointers in a comeback effort, one by Joel Boulds and two from Dillion Street.
It was a simple case of too little and too late for the Eagles and head coach TJ Zurliene, who acknowledged the difficulty in knocking down those same shots earlier in the game.
"Down the stretch we started hitting shots," Zurliene said. "We got up a little tighter on defense, we made them throw the ball away and make some mistakes and it got us right back in the ballgame."
Eldorado finished with a 21-of-43 shooting performance from the field. However, the 3-point shot, which is the bread and butter of the Eagles' offense struggled mightily.
EHS finished 5-of-16 from long range and entered the fourth quarter going 2-for-10.
"It could have been a much different ballgame if we could have shot the way we did in the last minute," Zurliene added. "This has been our trend the last three or four games. We haven't been able to convert the outside shot consistently and it's hurt us and has caused us to not be able to get the ball into Justin Wiseman or even penetrate."
That was the case for EHS, who despite turning the ball over five times in the first quarter, trailed 11-8 after one quarter of play.
A last second 3-pointer by Dylan Lawrence pulled the Eagles to within seven, as they went into the lockeroom trailing 28-21.
On more than one occasion in the first half, Zurliene made it clear from his vantage point that he wanted to push the ball up the floor. West Frankfort drastically changed the head coach's game plan.
"We never got into pushing the ball down the floor," he said. "That's been our game all year and (tonight) West Frankfort took us out of that. They did a great job of running their offense to perfection and anytime we'd get them to take a bad shot, they would come away with the offensive rebound and reset their offense."
West Frankfort was able to push the advantage to 10 points after the end of three quarters with a 44-34 lead.
Page 2 of 2 - Tyler Deaton and Lawrence each led Eldorado with 14 points, while Boulds banked in 12. Street tacked on 10 points, while Dakota Mitchell, Pena and Wiseman all had two points.
West Frankfort will play Harrisburg in Wednesday night's semifinal matchup, starting at 6 p.m.
That game will be followed by Benton and Johnston City at 7:30 p.m. The championship game will be Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister. com Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.
West Frankfort 11 17 15 17 - 61
Eldorado 08 13 13 20 - 56
West Frankfort: Easley 4 0-0 8, Koehl 8 1-1 21, Dunning 6 1-2 13, Fort 1 0-1 2, Maller 0 2-2 2, Williams 3 0-0 6, 4 0-2 8. Totals: 26 4-8 61.
Eldorado: Lawrence 5 3-3 14, Deaton 6 1-3 14, Street 5 0-0 10, Boulds 3 5-9 12, Wiseman 1 0-0 2, Mitchell 1 0-0 2, Graceffa 0 0-0 0, Roberts 0 0-0 0, Pena 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 9-15 56.
3-point FG: West Frankfort 4 (Kohel), Eldorado 5 (Street 2, Deaton, Boulds, Lawrence). Fouls: West Frankfort: 11, Eldorado: 11. Rebounds: West Frankfort 27, Eldorado 19.