Caleb Johnson wasn't the first option on the play that put the Crystal Lake South boys basketball up for good Thursday.
The senior turned out to be the right option.
Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:29 remaining to break a 41-41 tie and help the Gators to a 46-43 victory over Bartlett at the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs.
"The play was meant for Austin (Rogers). I don't know if they doubled him, but I just caught the ball with plenty of space," Johnson said. "It was a big shot to get us the lead. Glad we came out with a W."
CL South (10-1) finished Pool IV with a 2-1 record and will play South Elgin at 3 p.m. Friday for the right to play in the Consolation A championship game. The Hawks (8-5) will play Prairie Ridge at noon Friday in the Consolation B semifinals.
Neither team shot well in the first quarter as the Gators took an 11-6 lead into the second quarter. CL South hit its first 7 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers from Johnson and Chris Mahoney, of the second quarter to take a 29-11 lead with 3:24 remaining in the first half.
However, the Gators wouldn't score again until there was 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. Bartlett, which struggled shooting all game, was only able to cut the deficit to 29-17 during the nearly 7 minutes which CL South went scoreless. The Hawks used an 11-2 run to end the third quarter and get within 5, 35-30. Ryan DiCanio had 7 points during the run.
"We certainly played better in the second half," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "I think our tempo was better. Our defensive pressure was better. Our rotations on their shooters were better. Just all around we woke up from our Christmas lull."
The Hawks tied the game at 39-39 with 3:56 remaining on a steal and layup from Jordon Anderson. The teams traded baskets and turnovers before Johnson's big shot. Justin Busch got Bartlett within 1, 44-43, with 26.3 seconds to go. Rogers had a breakaway layup with 22 seconds remaining as CL South got its 3-point lead back. After a missed free throw by the Gators, Busch's half-court shot at the buzzer hit off the rim.
"It was a grinder of a game. It's a win that's a big plus because we easily could have lost that game," Gators coach Matt LePage said.
Rogers led all scorers with 18 points and had 10 rebounds. Johnson finished with 13 points.
Busch and DiCanio each had 15 points for Bartlett.