After dominating everyone who was not in the Mid-Illini Conference, and most of those teams as well, it was a non-conference team that proved to be the Metamora basketball team's downfall.
The Redbird season ended with a 61-58 loss to Peoria High School in the Chillicothe Regional championship Friday.
Throughout the first quarter, it looked like Metamora would cruise to an easy win.
The Redbird defense shut Peoria down with intense half-court pressure that forced bad shots and turnovers.
Off the bad shots and turnovers, the Redbirds were able to capitalize with sharpshooting from Tianen Chen, who led the team with 19 points for the game.
After the opening frame, Metamora led 17-7.
Peoria got its legs under it in the second quarter and began to find an offensive rhythm. The outside shooting of Peoria clicked before halftime and cut into Metamora's lead.
The Redbirds, however, also continued rolling offensively as David Gualandri blasted in shot after shot from anywhere on the court he chose to launch the rock.
At halftime, Metamora led 32-24.
The third quarter was all Peoria as the Lions shut down the Redbirds with a defensive pressure that was missing up until that point in the game.
Metamora had no answer for anything Peoria tried and, with one quarter remaining, Peoria led 42-40.
The final quarter was a race to the finish with each side popping tough, quality shots over the other. During the last eight minutes, 37 points were put on the board by the teams.
After failing to tie the game late on two free throws, the Redbirds' physical play allowed Central to make four of eight free throws in the final 1:13 of regulation to win.
Metamora's trip through the Regional began Feb. 27 with a 58-34 victory over the Illinois Valley Central Grey Ghosts.
The team's game against the former Mid-Illini Conference foe set the tone for the evening. The Redbirds would score and go on a run and IVC would be forced to play catch-up, something that never changed.
Metamora established itself as the stronger team with clutch early shots from Gualandri, who led the team scoring with 21 points.
The team held a 17-10 lead after the opening quarter.
IVC began to find a successful defensive strategy in the second quarter.
At halftime, the Redbird lead was 23-20.
The Redbirds began to find their offensive rhythm in the third quarter when Chen slung passes to open teammates and knocked down shots of his own when the chance arose.
Metamora's defense slowed IVC in the second half by upping the pressure both in the full and the half-court game.
Page 2 of 2 - IVC's turnovers and bad shot selection played into the Redbirds' hands as they capitalized on IVC's miscues.
The final frame was all Metamora.
Metamora finishes the season with a record of 23-6.