Metea Valley senior guard Marquell Oliver just wanted one more shot at victory.
And he got it.
“If the game was going to end like that, it would have been a devastating defeat to our team,” Oliver said of the final seconds of the fourth quarter. “I really wanted our team to get one more chance to win this game.”
South Elgin sophomore guard Matthew Smith went to the free-throw line with one second left in the fourth quarter for a potential game-winning free throw.
But a miss sent the game into overtime Friday night and Oliver was able to rewrite the ending as the Mustangs outscored the Storm 14-10 in OT for a 68-64 victory.
Oliver led Metea Valley (12-8, 5-4) in scoring with 26 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
“We were able to feed off of his emotion and he truly carried us to this hard-fought victory,” Metea coach Bob Vozza said.
Overtime began at a 52-52 deadlock, but Oliver carried the Mustangs in the extra session. After both teams exchanged baskets, junior guard Nick Dodson (12 points) tied the game at 55-55 with a baseline three and Oliver then reeled off seven straight points to stymie South Elgin (8-8, 3-6).
“When we were struggling to make a basket, Oliver was huge for us down the stretch,” Vozza said.
Oliver’s biggest contribution came when Meteta was clinging to a 62-61 lead. He made an acrobatic layup, muscling his way through traffic while being fouled. He successfully made his free-throw attempt to push his team’s biggest lead to four.
“Oliver was clutch. Without him, who knows where we would be,” Dodson said.
“All the big time players do it. When the pressure is on, you have to be able to shake it off and be able to be there for your team when it matters the most,” Oliver said.