Crystal Lake South didn't steal a game at Dundee-Crown Friday night. The Gators worked for everything they got. And the hardest worker was Austin Rogers.
The junior guard scored 23 points, including the game-winning 3-point play and grabbed a crucial rebound as the Gators upset the Chargers, 53-50, in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball action in Carpentersville.
JT Beasly led D-C (17-6, 8-3) with 15 points. Dylan Kissack and Brandon Rodriguez added 13 apiece.
Nick Geske scored 14 points and Alex Bartusch 11 for the Gators (10-14, 5-7).
South led most of the second half, but the Chargers battled back. They finally regained the lead on Trent Muscat's layup with 1:47 left.
South tied the game at 48 on 2 free throws by Bartusch. After a D-C turnover, Rogers scored and was fouled, converting the free throw for a 51-48 lead.
Rodriguez got the Chargers within 1 with a putback, but Bartusch added 2 more free throws for the final margin.
D-C had one last chance, but Beasly's 3-point attempt hit the back of the iron and the rebound came to -- who else -- Rogers.
The end-of-the-game toughness was a bright spot for the Gators, who have lost 7 games by 4 points or less.
"We were mentally tough when things got tight," said South coach Matt LePage. "When they made a run, we somehow held it together and that's honestly one thing we've been lacking, and we've been in this spot. For us to finish a team like them off is a great confidence booster.
"That's how you've got to win games. In our conference, it's usually who defends best in the last couple of minutes. Tonight was our night."
The Chargers came into the night a game behind Huntley in the Valley. The Red Raiders, who have now clinched the division title, downed Cary-Grove to open up a 2-game edge.
"They had a great game plan and executed well," said Chargers' coach Lance Huber of the Gators. "They deserved to win the game.
"Sometimes you can will yourself to victory, and we just couldn't find a way today."
South opened the second half with an 11-4 run, taking a 35-32 lead on Bartusch's 3-pointer. They maintained a narrow lead until the Chargers scored 6 straight points, taking the lead on Muscat's bucket.
Just 4 Gators accounted for all their points, with Chris Mahoney chipping in 5 points off the bench. The Gators also outrebounded the hosts, 35-20.