When Max Meitzler nailed a 5-foot shot in the lane with 6 minutes left in the game, Crystal Lake South grabbed a 37-26 lead over Crystal Lake Central.
The Gators' first win of the season seemed inevitable.
South is still searching for its first victory of the 2011-2012 season.
Crystal Lake Central outscored the Gators 26-9 the rest of the game in posting a 52-46 overtime win in Fox Valley Conference crossover action at South's Gator Alley Saturday night.
The Gators drop to 0-5 while Central improves to 6-0.
"The kids are working hard every day in practice and they deserve to win," said Crystal Lake South coach Dan DeBruycker. "If we keep playing like this we will get a win soon. The kids need to keep their heads up."
The visiting Tigers pecked away at the Gator lead in the fourth quarter and finally tied the score 41-41 after a 3-pointer by Brad Knoeppel with 2:22 left in regulation. Central grabbed it first lead of the game at 44-41 on a 3-pointer by Nick Decoster with 1:55 remaining. The Gators battled back to knot the score at 46 after a 3-pointer from Will Ahsmann with 38 seconds left. The Gators had a great chance to win in regulation, but Meitzler's shot in the lane fell short at the buzzer.
The Tigers dominated the extra session, outscoring the Gators 6-0. Nick Marchetti scored all of the Tigers' points in OT including going 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
"This was more South playing well than us playing poorly," said Crystal Lake Central Rich Czeslewski. "They hadn't played since playing Libertyville six days ago and came up with a great game plan. Our kids came up big at the end and found a way to win."
Ahsmann did a great job on Central standout guard Chase Cane. Cane scored only 1 point in the game, a free throw with 7 minutes left in regulation.
"Will Ahsmann did a great job on Cane," said DeBruycker. "He is long and quick to the spot. He is a great competitor. He is one of the best defenders I have ever coached. He was outstanding tonight against a very good offensive player.
Marchetti paced the Tigers with 15 points while Knoeppel scored 14 including four 3-pointers. Kyle Fleck was the third Tiger in double digits with 10 points while grabbing 8 rebounds.
Meitzler was the lone Gator in double figures with 20 points with 11 rebounds.
South-Central Military Night: There was an air of patriotism at Gator Alley Saturday night.
It was Crystal Lake Central-Crystal Lake South Military Night, which featured a total of 5 boys and girls games between the Crystal Lake schools.
In partnership with The Charity Stripe Free Throws For Heroes program, the Central and South boys and girls basketball programs raised $3,500 for local military families.
One of the families that will benefit was the family of Jason McLeod, who was killed In Iraq in 2009. McLeod's widow Aimee and daughter Jocyln were honored before the start of the Central-South boys game.
The charity is operated by Executive Director Mitch Salzstein, and has raised over $250,000 in 3 years for military families in Illinois.
"I work closely with the IHSA, IBCA and IADA," said Salzstein. "They have all been cooperative. We try to have as many as these events as possible. The coaches at Central and South did a great job. The kids did a great job of using their skills to make free throws. All the funds go to the military families."
Rockford Jefferson 62, Cary-Grove 48: Ben Bradshaw led Cary-Grove with 13 points in this nonconference loss. Casey Snodgrass added 9 points for the Trojans.