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Host Rich South reaches McDipper title game, defeats Thornton

In a semifinal of the 42nd annual McDipper Holiday Tournament at Rich South on Monday night, the Stars were trying to make the title game for the first time since 1997 when Gibran Carter and future NFL player Greg Lewis led them to a runner-up finish.

Rich South had to go through No. 11 Thornton to meet No. 7 Hales in Tuesday’s title game to try to capture the first Dipper title since 1993.

It took overtime to do it, but 4-for-5 free throw shooting in the last 90 seconds led the Stars to a 53-49 win and coach Scot Ritter’s 200th victory at the school.

“I have four third-place finishes and I’ve never been to the finals,” said Ritter, now in his 13th season at Richton Park. “This is gravy — nobody thought we’d be here.”

Dedrick Shannon, Jr. made sure his team was there, going 2-for-4 from the free throw line. The last free throw came with seven seconds left to make it a two-possession game. Shannon, Jr. finished with 14 points for the Stars (8-2).

The Stars’ Dominick Martin led the way with 16 points, including a personal 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to help erase a 32-27 deficit. He chipped in four key points in the overtime quarter. Jeremy Ruffin added 15 points.

“This is the best experience of my life,” Shannon, Jr. said. “We came into this as the No. 7 seed and nobody saw us getting this far. This is the game we wanted and we feel we are one of the best teams in the area and we felt we needed to show it.”

In regulation, David Ewings gave the Stars a 43-40 lead on a basket with 27 seconds left. The Wildcats forced overtime after an old fashioned 3-point play by Robert McCally (game-high 21 points) with nine seconds left.

The Stars led 25-19 at the break but were outscored 13-2 in the third quarter. Ruffin scored the Stars’ only basket in the quarter with 3:50 left. McCally scored eight points in the third to give his team a 31-27 lead.