A basketball player need not be a prolific scorer to be a catalyst, a lesson Dundee-Crown senior Jack Buckley imparted for the second straight game in Tuesday's 44-40 victory over visiting McHenry.
Dundee-Crown (14-5, 5-2 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division) led 37-25 entering the fourth quarter, but McHenry (9-10, 2-5) trimmed the deficit to a point on senior guard Korey Partenheimer's strong drive from the left elbow with 1:03 remaining.
After D-C junior Zach Pochop split 2 free throws to give the Chargers a 42-40 lead with 46 seconds left, Partenheimer again tried to drive from the same spot. Instead, Buckley stepped in and tied the ball up as both players tumbled to the floor with shared possession.
The arrow favored the Chargers with 31.9 seconds left. D-C's Brandon Rodriguez was subsequently fouled and sank both free throws to make it a 2-possession game with 18 seconds to play.
"By the fourth quarter you start catching on to guys' tendencies and know what they're going to do," Buckley said. "I just kind of read it."
Dundee-Crown senior guard J.T. Beasley then blocked Shane Varvil's 3-point attempt at the other end, and Dylan Kissack forwarded the defensive rebound upcourt as the final seconds elapsed in D-C's third straight victory.
Buckley, whom D-C coach Lance Huber credited for sparking the team in last Friday's 13-point win over Cary-Grove despite scoring only 2 points, was again lauded by his coach and teammates though he did not dent the scoring column.
"Jack was huge again tonight on the little plays that don't ever get in the paper, but they win you games," Huber said. "He had 3 charges tonight, he had tons of rebounds (6), got to loose balls. He was all over the place once again. I don't know where we would be without him right now."
A 5-foot-10 guard, Buckley drew 2 of his 3 charging calls in the fourth quarter, the last with 2:35 to play in a 5-point game.
"Big players make big plays and he made some big plays for us," said Rodriguez, who led all scorers with 18 points. "He had that rip at the end. He gets big rebounds. He does it all for us. He's the underdog."
McHenry, a deft perimeter-oriented team, made a trio of 3-pointers in the first half but only 1 in the second half.
"I thought we were solid defensively, which kept us in it," said McHenry coach Tim Paddock, whose squad held D-C without a fourth-quarter field goal, "but we have to shoot the ball well from the 3-point line to be effective offensively. I think we were 4 of 22 tonight. We had some stretches where we rebounded the basketball pretty well, but we were a couple of plays short of beating a good team like Dundee-Crown."
Partenheimer led McHenry with 13 points and 6 rebounds, and junior Greg Johnson (11 points) drilled three 3-pointers for the Warriors.
Kissack finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and Beasley added 5 points and 5 rebounds for the Chargers, who next host a rematch against rival Jacobs on Friday at 7 p.m.