EUGENE — Thomas Jefferson Independent was content to hold for the last shot of the first half.
The Cavaliers held a one-point lead against the St. Elizabeth Hornets in Friday night's Class 1 quarterfinal at Eugene High School as time wound down. But they never got that last shot as the Hornets forced a turnover with :06.6 showing on the clock.
That was just enough time.
Brock Lucas drained a long 2-pointer from near the top of the key to beat the buzzer to give the Hornets a 31-30 lead at the break. St. Elizabeth then scored nine of the first 12 points in the third quarter on its way to a 67-53 victory.
"It was a good momentum shift going to the half," Lucas said. "It gave us the lead and with that little push, we came out firing."
With the win, the Hornets advance to their third consecutive Class 1 Final Four. St. Elizabeth (18-6) will take on Mound City (28-1) in the semifinals at noon Friday at JQH Arena in Springfield.
"I don't many people at the start of the season thought we could get back to the Final Four considering we lost four starters from one of the best teams ever to go through St. Elizabeth," Lucas said.
Lucas' shot was set up by the Hornets forcing that turnover.
"Defense was key," St. Elizabeth coach Caleb Heckemeyer said.
There wasn't a whole lot of defense for either side in the first quarter. The teams combined to go 17-of-31 from the field in the opening eight minutes, which closed with the Cavaliers holding a 23-18 advantage.
"We've seen where they come out and shoot well at the start of games," Heckemeyer said.
But St. Elizabeth held Thomas Jefferson to just seven points in the second quarter.
"Our defense set in and allowed us to get back in the ballgame," Heckemeyer said.
Thomas Jefferson scored the first three points of the third quarter to take their final lead of the game at 33-31. St. Elizabeth then rattled off nine straight, including four points from Dylan Wobbe, to take the lead for good.
Wobbe missed the last part of the second quarter and the start of the third quarter after getting a cut near his eye after catching a stray elbow. He returned to the game sporting a big bandage.
"It was nice to get Dylan back in there," Heckemeyer said.
The Hornets led by as many as 11 points in the quarter before settling for a 46-38 advantage going to the fourth.
Thomas Jefferson got as close as six points in the fourth quarter on two occasions, the last at 51-45 after a pair of free throws by Drew Goodhope with 4:21 remaining.
St. Elizabeth then put the game out of reach with a 12-0 run during the next three minutes. Jace Kesel had six of the points for the Hornets, who had their biggest lead of the game at 63-45.
"It takes leadership to get through games like this one and we had some good leaders out there tonight," Heckmeyer said.
Dhruv Gheewala finished with 24 points to lead Thomas Jefferson (20-6). James Myers added 10, while Jay Ball pulled down 12 rebounds.
Lucas paced St. Elizabeth with 24 points, scoring 12 in each half. The junior, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the sectionals, also pulled down 10 rebounds.
"Brock played so hard, he did what he had to do to get us that win," Heckemeyer said.
Carson Kesel had 13 points for the Hornets, while Wobbe finished with 10 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
Mound City advanced with a 61-30 victory Friday night in its quarterfinal against Orrick.
"It's going to be tough, every team is good when you get there," Heckemeyer said. "If we play up to our capabilities defensively, we can hold our own."
The other semifinal will pit South Iron (23-4) against Higbee (19-5) at 10 a.m Friday.
South Iron was ranked No. 1 in the final Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll of the regular season, while Mound City was at No. 2. St. Elizabeth and Higbee were among four teams receiving votes.
The championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. next Saturday, while the third-place game will start at noon.
St. Elizabeth was second in the state tournament last year after finishing third in 2019.