South Elgin coach Matt Petersen questioned his team's shot selection at some points during the game, but there was no question about the last shot. A 2-footer by a 6-foot-8 guy is usually a sure thing, and Friday was no exception.
Tyler Hankins made a layup at the buzzer to lift the Storm over Crystal Lake South, 60-59, in the consolation semifinal of the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs.
With the Storm down 1, Jake Amrhein came up with a steal. Justin Howard missed a 3-pointer but got his own rebound. After a Gator foul, Matt McClure found Hankins all alone under the basket and the big sophomore laid it in.
"We talked about our shot selection in the first half," Petersen said. "At times, playing with a lead, it wasn't there. But on that last possession, two things happened. There were numerous opportunities for us to take a bad shot, and we didn't. We kept moving the ball and doing the right things until we had a shot right under the rim. That was stuff that we weren't even doing in the first half. And the second thing that happened is, when we got down, we made a play with our defensive aggression, getting that steal."
South Elgin led by as many as 9 points in the first half of the fast-paced game, and had a 5-point lead early in the third quarter, but the Gators kept chipping away. They scored 7 straight points to take a 59-55 lead late. A 3-pointer by Matt Smith cut the lead to 1, setting up the final sequence.
Smith led South Elgin (7-6) with 16 points, and also grabbed 6 rebounds. Howard finished with 13 points and 5 boards. Hankins added 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 blocks, while McClure finished with 10 points and 5 assists.
Austin Rogers almost single-handedly kept Crystal Lake South in the game. The senior guard scored more than half of the Gators' points, finishing with 30. Chris Mahoney had 8 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block.
The Gators entered the tournament undefeated, but fell to 11-2 after a loss to Zion-Benton in pool play.
South Elgin advances to the Consolation "A" championship at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against Cary-Grove.