Well, the key North Suburban Conference Lake Division contest between Zion-Benton and Stevenson certainly exceeded the hype.
For two teams that hadn't seen live game action in 24 days combined, they made up for it with four thrilling quarters and one extra overtime session.
It all ended on a runner by Zion-Benton senior Fred Calvert with :09 seconds left, stinging the Patriots with their first loss of the year 70-69 in overtime.
The great finish and fantastic game was marred by a skirmish between the two teams during the handshake line immediately following the contest. Coaches, players, and fans from both teams ended up in a melee that ended with both teams clearing the gym and Stevenson boarding its team buses without making comment.
"Everybody played hard on both teams," said veteran Zion-Benton coach Don Kloth after the Zee-Bees earned their 10th straight win. "This was a well-played, hard-fought high school basketball game."
To get to overtime, Zion (13-1, 4-0) needed last-second heroics and got them from senior Milik Yarbrough. He hit his only 3-pointer of the night with 10.7 seconds left in regulation to knot the game at 60-60. It was the seventh time the two teams had been tied during regulation. Yarbrough was sensational again, leading four Zee-Bee players in double figures with 24 points. Jerome Davis (14 points) and Admiral Schofield (13 points) were also big contributors for Zion.
Once in overtime, neither team held a lead by more than 2 points with the lead changing hands on every possession, including the final one.
Stevenson (13-1, 3-1) took its last lead of the night with 23 seconds left on a layup from freshman Justin Smith. It was the only basket of the night for Smith.
Zion-Benton had an answer for the Patriots. As the Bees ran the clock down, Calvert snuck into the lane and flipped in a runner with nine seconds left. Stevenson fumbled the ball on the inbounds and wasn't able to get a final shot off.
"I was just thinking that I had to end this game for my team, put it in the basket and come out with the big win," said Calvert who added 11 points on the night. "Even when I scored I knew I had to get back on defense because the game wasn't over just yet."
The visiting Patriots looked as if they would pull away in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Connor Cashaw, who put up 25 points and contributed a dozen boards, helped ignite a big run in the final quarter to build a 50-45 cushion with 6:28 left. His offense and the defense of teammate Jalen Brunson ignited the burst.
But the offense for the Patriots struggled most of the night. Brunson in particular was guarded very well by Calvert and Maurice Young. While he led all scorers with 27 points, it took 9-for-36 shooting from the field.
"Maurice and Fred did a great job guarding a very good basketball player in Brunson," Kloth said. "That's a tough assignment and I thought they did very well."
Zion-Benton answered with a 12-2 run, taking its biggest lead pf the night on a bucket from Yarbrough before Brunson scored the final 6 points of the quarter to give Stevenson its last lead at 60-57 with 18.6 seconds left.