Willowbrook junior Matas Masys looked calm and comfortable as he drained the game-winning three-pointer with five seconds left on Tuesday.
As a unit, the Warriors executed the play with crisp confidence. It turns out that wasn’t by accident.
“That’s a play we’ve been running in close situations like that for a couple years now,” Willowbrook senior Ethan Schuemer said. “[Masys] always ends up getting open, he had a couple clutch shots over the summer for us. He knocked it down tonight.”
The shot gave the Warriors a 70-67 win against visiting Larkin.
“As soon as it left my hand I knew it was going in,” Masys said. “They stayed with Schuemer and I was open. Matt [Myers] made the good pass and I hit the shot.”
Willowbrook (17-3) needed an impressive run in the final two minutes to get into that position. Larkin (14-6) led by six after Jalen Shaw’s two free throws with 2:21 to play.
Masys made a three on the Warriors’ next possession that ignited a 11-2 run to close the game.
Shaw, a 6-10 senior, finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
“Shaw can disrupt a lot of things with his length,” Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins said. “We told the guys Shaw was going to get some blocks, we just had to continue to play through it and stay aggressive. The guys did a good job of attacking him.”
Masys scored 13 points and Cornelius Paxton Jr. added 10. The Warriors received a massive, and unlikely, contribution from sophomore Everett Stubblefield in his first varsity game. He scored 13 points and shot 5-for-6 from the field.
“[Stubblefield] just had a 42-point game at Downers Grove South on Friday,” Perkins said. “He’s big for us this year and going forward. It was crucial for us to get him some experience this year.”
Stubblefield scored seven in the fourth quarter, including a big three-pointer.
“To step up like that in your first varsity game, that’s amazing to have that performance,” Masys said. “He gives us a whole other look on the offensive side.”
Senior guard Anthony Lynch led Larkin with 27 points and five rebounds. Junior Pierre Black scored 20, he was 6-for-9 from three-point range.
Larkin had 19 turnovers, including consecutive crucial mistakes with a minute left to play while clinging to a one-point lead.
“[Larkin’s guards] are very athletic but a little smaller,” Perkins said. “That’s the kind of defense we play, we try to be aggressive.”
This was just the first game in a massive week for the Warriors. They face conference rival Proviso East on Friday and then play West Aurora at the Batavia Night of Hoops on Saturday.
“This win absolutely is a huge confidence boost,” Schuemer said. “We knew we had to come out strong and we couldn’t start off the week on a bad note.”