Crystal Lake South recovered from a second-half slumber just in time on Thursday to pull out a 46-43 win over Bartlett in third round action at the Jacob’s Hinkle Holiday Classic.
The Gators let a 14-point halftime lead slip away as they fell behind 41-39 with 2:45 left to play before rallying back to pull out the win. Austin Rogers tied the game at 41-41 with 2:23 left and Caleb Johnson put the Gators back in the lead for good 44-41 with 1:29 on the clock on a three-pointer from the top of the key. Rogers added another bucket down the stretch to help secure the win
The Gators (10-1 overall, 2-1 in the tournament) had gone ice cold from the field in the second half, shooting just 5-of-20 (25 percent) before the game-tying and go-ahead baskets. South finished in second place in pool play.
“We were having some ball movement issues and just got real tight with our shots,” said South coach Mike LePage. “We desperately needed somebody step up and make some shots. In the end we got tough and made the plays we needed to make.”
The go-ahead basket was the third three-pointer of the night for Johnson, who finished with 13 points. Rogers had a team high 16 points for the Gators.
“That play was designed to go to Austin,” said Johnson. “But they collapsed on him and I was the second option. I was able to catch the ball with plenty of space and got a good open look. I was already feeling pretty good and in the groove after making a couple shots earlier and the top of the key is one of my favorite spots. It was a tough game. I am just glad we were able to get the “W”.”
Johnson along with Chris Mahoney helped the Gators pull out to a 27-9 lead with a 16-3 run to start the second quarter. Both hit a pair of three-pointers during the stretch.
Bartlett (8-5) outscored South 15-6 in the third quarter behind eight points from Ryan DiCanio to trim the deficit to 35-30 heading into the fourth quarter. Jordan Anderson tied the game at 39-39 for Bartlett on a steal and layup with 3:54 left to play. Moments later the Hawks took the lead 41-39 with 2:23 left on a layup from Kevin Wantroba.
However, Bartlett made just 1-of-5 shots in the final two minutes and turned the ball over twice. The Hawk’s Justin Busch had two chances to tie the game in the closing moments, but his first three-point attempt with six seconds to play rimmed out and his second attempt from half court at the buzzer, following a missed South free throw, hit the back of the rim.
“We certainly played a lot better in the second half,” said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. “We got ourselves back into it. e just needed to sustain it the whole way.”
Bush had 15 points to lead the Hawks in scoring. DiCanio added 14 points.