JOHNSTON CITY -- It was a matchup straight from a Hollywood movie.
Two eighth-grade teams, both benefiting from the new Southern Illinois Junior High School Association "Class M" postseason, met in the Johnston City High School gym Thursday evening.
One team would earn a trip to state, the other would end their season.
For coach Wendell Wheeler's Unity Point Trojans, the bus ride home would be a long one, as the team ended its 20-5 season with a four-point loss in a game that wasn't decided until the final minute when the Indians came away with a 37-33 victory.
In fact, this Zone 1 Regional championship was pretty much a repeat of the two earlier games.
"We won at their place 55-52," said Johnston City coach Trevor Clark of the first meeting in late December. Wheeler's team took revenge the first of week of January at Johnston City.
"They beat us 60-56 in overtime," said Clark.
It was in that game that Indians eighth grade standout Austin Brown scored 53 points.
"We think that might be a school record for the boys," said Clark.
Thursday's championship was nip and tuck with Unity Point leading most of the game, including holding a 28-24 lead going into the final quarter.
Then, the tide turned.
The Indians shut down the Trojans scoring duo of Oyeilumi Conner and Mataeo Henry, holding the pair to just two fourth period points.
Brown exploded in the final minutes, scoring 12 of his game-high 25.
Clark was emotional as he watched his team celebrate with the trophy.
"This doesn't happen here often," he said. "There's not any words to describe this feeling."
Wheeler had nothing but praise for the Indians.
"It was a great game," he said. "They were a great team, well coached."
Clark said he is very proud of the team he has been with since most were in first grade.
"They show up every night and they work really hard," he said.
Clark said that coaching a player like Brown has been a pleasure.
"He is a team player," said Clark, adding that Brown is often "too unselfish."
Clark also said that his team plays as a unit.
"The kids around Austin have accepted their roles and those change every night," he said.
Johnston City will face the winner of Monday's game between Eldorado and Fairfield before heading to the state level at Rend Lake College next Friday.
Clark may have plans for his team, but Brown has his own idea: "We're ready to win state."