Payson’s magical run ends, but not before making Gibault work until final buzzer to win sectional semifinal

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HARDIN, Ill. — In the end, Bryan Dieker may have captured the moment better than anyone else. 

“This was a great season for us,” he said. “This was the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball.”

Dieker, a 6-foot-1 senior forward on the Payson Seymour boys basketball team, had just completed the final game of his career, a 66-58 loss to Waterloo Gibault in the Class 1A sectional semifinals Tuesday night at Calhoun Junior High School.

The loss ended a storybook run for Payson, which entered the postseason as a No. 9 seed but shocked the world — or at least the part of it that made up the Calhoun Sectional — when it stunned state-ranked New Berlin 41-38 in the second round. New Berlin was the No. 7-ranked team in the final Associated Press state poll and No. 1 in another balloting.

Even as the final seconds clicked off against Gibault, Dieker said he refused to admit Payson’s memorable season was about to be extinguished.

“I never felt it was (going to end), I felt that way until the very end,” said Dieker, who finished with 17 points.

But end it did, and accepting the finality of that closing buzzer was equally difficult for second-year coach Tyler Duschinsky.

“I loved this season — what a great bunch of kids,” Duschinsky said. “We’re going to be losing two senior starters — Bryan and Richie (Martin) — who gave everything they had for this team.”

Payson winds up 18-16. Three of those victories came in the postseason, where the Indians were chasing their first sectional title since 2013.

“I feel there’s a good foundation here for the future,” Duschinsky said. “I put a lot of trust in our players and they ran with it. I enjoyed being able to go to practice every day and work with those guys. It was a pleasure to see these kids every day, and I’ve been thankful to be part of a program that supports its kids like Payson does.”

Gibault (28-7) took command of the game with a 7-0 surge during a 3 1/2-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Hawks to move to a 58-49 advantage with 1 minute, 9 seconds remaining.

Duschinsky felt the overriding factor in his club’s play against Gibault was a lack of key defensive stops throughout the game, either by forcing a turnover, deflecting a pass or collecting a key rebound.

“We had been able to do that during our (first three tournament) games,” he said.

Payson’s strongest run came early in the game when it jumped to an 11-6 lead in the first quarter, but Gibault then rattled off 14 straight points and led the remainder of the evening.

“I don’t think we came out with the kind of intensity we needed,” said sophomore Blake Schwartz, who led Payson in scoring with 29 points, including six 3-pointers.

Junior Wyatt Neisen (12) also reached double figures against Gibault. Neisen, Dieker and Schwartz combined to score all 33 of Payson’s second-half points.

“I can’t say enough about what our seniors did for us,” Schwartz said. “We can learn a lot from them going forward.”

Kaden Augustine (25), Gavin Kessler (19) and Hudson Blank (15) combined to score 59 of Gibault’s points.

Payson gave Gibault its toughest tournament test to date. The Hawks had walloped their first three opponents by an average margin of victory of 32.7 points.

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