Brimfield holds off Mounds Meridian to win 1A title

SHARE Brimfield holds off Mounds Meridian to win 1A title
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Carson Cuevas scored 32 points, and Brimfield held on despite a frantic rally by Mounds Meridian to win the IHSA Class 1A boys basketball state title, 56-52, on Saturday.

The Bobcats (27-8) trailed by 12 with 6:36 remaining in the fourth but chipped away to cut the lead to three with under a minute left. But Brimfield (34-2) made just enough free throws to seal the victory, including Koby White’s with 3.1 seconds left to push the Bobcats’ lead to the final score.

Cuevas had 17 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that tied the game at 20.

“It’s a play we call Spider,” Brimfield coach Scott Carlson said. “And Carson ran it to perfection. He curled around and caught it in stride and drilled it. It was a big, big shot. The kids were sprinting to the locker room.”

He had the first four points of the second half for the Indians (34-2), who never relinquished the lead.

“That was a huge momentum shift,” Meridian coach Erik Griffin said. “I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half matching (Cuevas), but that run really gave them a boost.”

The Indians had trailed by five with 1:30 left in the second quarter, but they quickly erased that and forged a lead with a Brad Novak layup and then four straight from Cuevas.

It was totally expected from Cuevas, a senior slated to play baseball for Illinois Central College next year.

“It’s what we have done all season,” he said. “We pull away from teams in the second half. I think if we hadn’t done that, it would have been surprising.”

The Indians pushed the lead to a dozen early in the fourth but Meridian wasn’t done yet.

The Bobcats still trailed by nine with 1:17 left. DJ Weldon made a jumper, then David Davis made one and then hit one of two free throws before Davarae Edmonds made two free throws on Cuevas’ fifth foul to pull Meridian within three at 54-51 with 43 seconds on the clock.

The teams traded a free throw apiece before Koby White was fouled with four seconds left. He missed the first before draining the second, skipping off to waiting teammates for a defensive substitute.

Carlson was just a little nervous finishing the biggest game of the year without his star.

“Well, we certainly would have rather had him out there,” Carlson said. “But we have done it before with Carson not out there. I had faith we could do it again. Koby and everyone did just what we needed them to do.”

Davis had 14 points and Weldon and Edmonds had 12 each to lead Meridian.

“Our guys did a great job of staying with it,” Griffin said. “That is one thing I can say about our kids, they have huge heart. There is no quit in them, and I am incredibly proud of the way they fought today.”

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