Crete-Monee coach Tom Cappel sat in the locker room with his hands over his face trying to grasp what just happened at Rich South on Friday night.
Not only did the Warriors lead almost the entire game, but they seemed to have salvaged the win when Jeremiah Matthews caught a wild shot by Dwayne Rose and put back a layup which appeared to beat the buzzer and give the Warriors a one-point win.
The Warriors’ celebration came to a screeching halt when one of the referees waived it off. The excitement turned to the Stars, who were awarded a 55-54, come-from-behind Southland conference win.
“I felt I put the ball in at the right time,” Matthews said. “When the ball was down in the net that’s when I heard the buzzer. It was a good game and we should have never gotten in that predicament since we had an [18-point lead] at one time.”
“I heard no horn [before Matthews shot it] and that’s all I can say. There were four seconds left when [Rose] shot it, Cappel said. “It got away from us and that’s our fault.”
The Warriors (9-9, 1-3) were up 40-22 with 6:23 left in the third quarter before the Stars (11-4, 3-1) began their comeback. They closed within 47-37 after three quarters and outscored the Warriors 18-7 in the fourth.
Shakur Jinad led the comeback with a game-high 20 points off the bench, his final basket with 17 seconds left the game-winner. That hoop completed a game-ending 12-2 run.
“Just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win,” said Jinad, who didn’t enter the game until the second quarter. “My stomach dropped [after Matthews’ shot] because I actually thought it was good but when I saw the referee (waive it off) I was happy.”
Jeremy Ruffin added 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Stars while Dominick Martin added 11. Matthews led the Warriors with 13 points off the bench, Mike Nelson had 12 and Tyler Williams chipped in 11.
“I thought it was close,” Rich South coach Scot Ritter admitted. “We were talking about it and I’d have to really watch it on film. In fast time I thought the ball was still in [Matthews’ hands].
“This is the first time we’ve fought through adversity and we haven’t seen a triangle and two (defense) since we were good in 2009.”