Danny Leach has been advised throughout his basketball career that if at first you don't nail the jumper, try, try again.
In the fourth quarter Thursday at Glenbard West's Holiday Classic against St. Charles East the Timothy Christian junior guard missed his first 7 shots, including two in the Trojans' decisive possession in the game's last 30 seconds.
Undaunted, and with teammate Tyler VanderBrug grabbing the offensive rebound for one more try, Leach canned a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2.8 seconds left for a 51-50 lead.
Unlike the day before, when St. Charles East won at the buzzer, there was no Saints miracle. A baseball pass sailed out of bounds, and VanderBrug's 2 free throws capped Timothy Christian's 53-50 win on the final day of pool play.
"All my life my coaches have been telling me if you're a shooter you've just got to keep shooting. That's what I did, and I knew they were going to start falling again," Leach said.
"Danny's got ice in his veins," Trojans coach Jack LeGrand said of Leach, who scored a team-high 22 points with six 3-pointers.
Leach was engaged in a sort of high-stakes horse game with St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens, who was two days removed from a twisted left ankle that held him out of the Saints' own last-shot victory on Wednesday.
Electronic stimulation, Epsom salts, hot and cold baths and tape on both ankles allowed Saints coach Patrick Woods to quickly insert Stephens off the bench.
The lanky junior scored 30 points and made five 3-pointers on an ankle he described as "60 percent." Stephens gave the Saints their first lead, 21-19, on a 24-foot 3 and their last lead, 50-48, on 2 free throws with 37.6 seconds left to play.
But while Johnny Hondlik added 9 points no other Saint scored more than Luke Ludke's 3 for St. Charles East (7-4).
"I think we came in a little too overconfident after yesterday," Woods said. "We called it. We said earlier today when we met, it's a trap game. Got to come out with energy and defense."
Timothy Christian (8-6) got a great start and 11 points from Matt Morrison, 9 points and 8 rebounds from Chris Ridolphi and key contributions from everyone, like Luke Davidson with 2 clutch fourth-quarter steals.
"It was just exciting to see all the guys put things together and believe in each other and share the ball a little bit," said LeGrand, whose club will play Leyden for third place at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Wheaton Academy and Glenbard West vie for the title at 8 p.m.; Fenton and Addison Trail tip off at 3 p.m. for seventh place.
St. Charles East? Even with a 2-1 mark in pool play it drops to the fifth-place game against West Chicago.
"We just didn't have it," Stephens said of Thursday's outing, "so we paid the price."