The game ended for Dundee-Crown's boys basketball team just like coach Lance Huber drew it up. Hit a last-second 3-pointer at the end of regulation to tie the game. Fight back from 8 points down in the first overtime and hit a game-tying shot at the buzzer to force a second overtime. Sink a last-second shot at the buzzer to win the game in the second overtime. Finish with a 70-68 victory over Rockford Lutheran and become champions of the 50th Annual Leland G. Strombom Holiday Basketball Tournament. Yep, just like coach drew it up.
J.T. Beasly became the Chargers' overtime ninja, as the senior guard canned a three-foot jumper to tie the game as the buzzer sounded to end the first overtime, and then ended the night for the Crusaders with a one-handed shot from six feet out as time expired. Beasly finished the night with 20 points and 8 rebounds, but none of his points were more rewarding than the final ones.
"I don't know, man," Beasly said. "I just tried to get around him, and then, cut, cut, I just threw it up and it went in. I was trying to penetrate deeper, but then I got stopped, so I just threw it up. They were playing off me most of the game, so that opened things up for me to drive more. We didn't think it was over. We just kept fighting. We knew we had to stay on them because those guys shoot very well."
Cordero Parson's 3-pointer tied the game at the end of regulation paved the way for Beasly's overtime heroics.
"It wasn't really drawn up that way, but my teammates found me and I had a wide-open shot and it went down," said Parson, who had 13 points. "They were doubling B-Rod (Brandon Rodriquez), so they found me."
Huber indicated that Beasly was able to drive to the basket due to the defense being played by the Crusaders.
"Consistency like that from J.T. makes us a much better team, obviously," Huber said. "We told J.T. that we wanted to get something close for him or B-Rod and fortunately for us the way they played it they guarded Brandon and J.T. got it, made a move on his own, and it went in. The thing that helped J.T. tonight was he was able to knock down the perimeter shot, so they had to guard him a little bit. J.T. can get to the rim, but he can also shoot from the outside."
For Dundee-Crown, the game seemingly couldn't have started any better, leading 13-6 after the first quarter while the normally explosive Crusader offense tried to find its range. Rockford Lutheran bounced back in the second quarter, but the Chargers still held a 25-21 at the half. The frustrated Crusaders made it to the championship by hitting on a high percentage of shots from 3-point range, but found little success in the first half.
Then came the barrage. Two 3-pointers by leading scorer Thomas Kopelman (31) and another 3 by Kendall Lawson (14 points) pulled the Crusaders to within 3 points at the end of the third quarter. The Crusaders hit 4 more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one with less than a minute left that gave Rockford Lutheran its first lead of the game.
Parson's game-tying 3 came at the final buzzer of regulation, but the Chargers couldn't sustain the momentum built from the long-range jumper. A 3-point shot by sophomore guard Joseph Kellen (14 points) and back-to-back layups by Kopelman gave the Crusaders a seemingly insurmountable 64-56 lead with less than two minutes to play in the first overtime.
Beasly hit a 3-pointer of his own and Rodriquez (13 points) canned a 3 after a Crusader turnover to pull the Chargers to within 64-62 with less than 30 seconds remaining. Beasly's pullup jumper from three feet out at the buzzer tied the game once again.
Kellen nailed a 3-pointer for the Crusaders to tie the game 68-68 with 3.9 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Dylan Kissack (18 points) inbounded the ball to Beasly at half court and Beasly drove through a double-team and let the ball sail with his right hand from six feet away as time expired. The ball bounced off the back side of the rim, up, and then in for the game winner.
"We fought back and we had some times when we were down, but we just stayed in it the whole game," Kissack said. "(Beasly) was just able to make a tight cut and squeak by and put it up and it went in. Down six, I think a lot of our spirits were down, but coach and our teammates kept our spirits up, and I think that was the key to the game because we never gave up and just kept fighting."