MORRISTOWN - The 2011-12 boys' basketball season promised to be one to remember for Beallsville.
After all, the talented Blue Devils had reeled off six victories to start the campaign, then, after a setback at Conotton Valley, proceeded to string together a dozen victories to stand at an impressive 18-1.
However, the next two - and final- games won't soon be on anyone's minds in Beallsville.
Madonna stunned the Blue Devils with a 20-point triumph in the Wheeling Hospital/OVAC Tournament Class A title tilt last weekend at Ohio University Eastern in a game that was much closer until a late spurt by the defending West Virginia Class A state champs.
Even though that loss stung, it wasn't as stunning as the one Beallsville (18-3) suffered with a season-ending, 61-58, reversal at the hands of Caldwell on Thursday night at Union Local High School in Division IV sectional tournament action.
Tied at 58-58, Caldwell's Jonathon Wiechman stroked a 3-pointer from the right wing with 7.5 seconds remaining on the clock to put his team up. Beallsville, with no timeouts left, quickly inbounded the ball, but it was deflected out of bounds near mid-court with 0:0.2 left, not even time for a last-ditch miracle as the Redskins faithful rushed the floor.
"I just feel bad for my seniors," veteran Beallsville coach Lou "Scooter" Tolzda said. "They are a great group of kids and have really worked their butts off.
"The kid made a tough shot," Tolzda said of Wiechman's jumper, which capped a superb 35-point outburst by the 5-foot-10 sophomore. "I thought we did the right things. We knew he was quick and we stayed in front of him, but he made a heckuva shot."
The Redskins, who had lost twice to the Blue Devils in the regular season, went toe-to-toe with the second-seeded opponent and led by 10, 49-39, with 8 minutes to play.
Beallsville, playing short-handed due to a disciplinary suspension and an injury, battled back behind the crafty duo of senior Sam Jackson and junior Teryn Jarrett.
A pair of free throws by Jackson erased a 10-point deficit and deadlocked the game at 58 with 34.6 seconds left, which set the stage for Wiechman's late-game heroics.
"I feel like I aged 10 years there," Caldwell coach Clint Crane said with a smile. "Being just a sophomore, how many free throws did he miss down the stretch? Seven! He's an 80-percent free throw shooter. To miss that many and then step up and hit that shot with the game on the line, what can you say? It's as big as it gets. It's huge!"
The Redskins held a 28-26 lead at the half and extended their margin to 10 as Wiechman and Eli Svercek tallied 13 and six points, respectively in the third frame.
Beallsville actually got to within six late in the third quarter before Wiechman scored a pair of buckets for the 10-point bulge entering the final chapter.
Caldwell had more than a handful of chances to put the Big Blue away, but its inaccuracy from the charity stripe nearly cost it. The Red-clad designated visitors had been perfect on all four tries prior to the fourth quarter when they misfired on 12 of 15 chances, including a dismal 2-for-9 performance by Wiechman.
"We had our chances," Tolzda said. "We didn't do anything for three quarters, and I think that loss to Madonna took a lot out of us. We really put a lot into the OVAC and we came out flat (Thursday night) and recovered a little too late.
"Although, if we could've got into overtime, I think we could've gotten them," he added.
Svercek backed Wiechman's outing with 14 points. Jensen Croucher snagged a dozen rebounds as Caldwell led 43-36 off the glass.
Jackson and Jarrett evenly divided 34 markers, while senior Gage Bates added a dozen in place of Josh Baldridge. Grahamm Dauch had eight boards.