St. Charles East junior guard Dom Adduci picked the perfect time for his only basket of the game Wednesday night at the 54th annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament.
With the Saints tied at 46-46 with the seconds ticking away against Schaumburg, Adduci nailed a 14-foot floater to give St. Charles East a 48-46 victory.
"They doubled (Purdue recruit) Kendall (Stephens) so I spun off and I shot it with confidence," Adduci said. "Even though I didn't get that many looks today I knew my teammates were relying on me so I needed to step up. And that was the time to do it."
Saxons coach Matt Walsh called time with 8.1 seconds left and got the ball in the hands of Kyle Bolger, who scored a team-high 14 points. Bolger drove the length of the court all the way to the rim, but Stephens came from the weak side to block his shot as time expired.
Walsh went to center court to argue for a foul to no avail.
"I thought our kid made a great play, I thought their kid made a great play, I thought it was clearly a foul," Walsh said.
Stephens scored the first six points of the game. The Saxons (0-2) finally got on the board with 3:30 left in the opening quarter on a putback by Jimmy Lundquist, then tallied the final 8 points of the quarter to lead 8-6 on Bolger's steal and layup.
Stephens swished a long 3 to start the second quarter and put the Saints (2-0) back up 9-8, a lead they held the rest of the quarter. Stephens scored 11 points in the first half, and Jake Asquini came off the bench to hit a corner 3 for a 22-19 halftime lead.
The Saxons took their first lead since the first quarter on Josh Rahn's 3-point play, 25-24 midway through the third quarter. After the Saints offense had failed to hit a shot the first 7 minutes of the second half, Stephens drove for a bucket while getting fouled, then took a handoff from Adduci and nailed an NBA-range 3 to put East back up 31-30 heading to the fourth.
Stephens opened the quarter playing the passing lane, stealing the ball and taking it the other way for a one-hand slam. After the Saxons made 5 of 6 free throws to go up 35-33, AJ Washington helped the Saints regain the lead with a 3-point play on a fastbreak feed from Adduci.
Four free throws from Stephens had the Saints up 44-39 only to see Bolger score 5 points, the final 3 on a 3-point play to tie the game at 46 and set up Adduci's last-second heroics.
"Big players make big plays and he (Adduci) definitely did that for us tonight," Saints coach Pat Woods said. "Sometimes you need a little luck and a lot of skill and he has it."
Bobby Green added 11 points for the Saxons.
"St. Charles East is a fantastic team, we feel we are a very, very good team," Walsh said. "This tournament is going to do nothing but make us better."
Stephens led all scorers with 22 points. The Saints' next two top scorers came from their bench, Washington with 9 (and a game-high 7 rebounds) and Asquini 7.
None of the Saints coaches were sure the last time St. Charles East won its own tournament, saying sometime in the 1970s. Now two wins away, the Saints' meeting with 2-0 St. Joseph Friday night could be the first of what this talented squad hopes are many big games this winter.
"We're going to treat it as a championship game," Adduci said. "We definitely want to get to the finals of our own tournament. That would be huge for us."