So much for taking it easy on the interim coach.
Filling in for St. Charles North basketball head coach Tom Poulin, who was in Florida attending to a family matter, Rob Prentiss faced a major decision during Tuesday night’s nonconference clash with Kaneland.
After calling a timeout with 8.5 seconds remaining and the score tied at 59-59, Prentiss decided to let senior guard Alec Goetz have a crack at breaking the deadlock.
“Basically it’s give it (the ball) to our best player,” said Prentiss. “We’ll live and die with him.”
Goetz produced a clutch 3-point play with 1.2 seconds remaining to help lift the North Stars (15-7) to a 62-59 victory in Maple Park.
“Coach (Prentiss) thought if I got the ball at the top of the key they probably wouldn’t help on me,” said Goetz, who poured in 8 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter as the North Stars rallied from a 30-26 halftime deficit.
“Luckily, I came through,” said Goetz.
“We felt confident with the ball in Alec’s hands and he delivered,” said Prentiss. “He has worked really hard on his game. Every year he has come back and he’s got another element to his game.”
Prentiss was happy that his team escaped with the hard-fought victory after trailing by as many as 5 with 5 ½ minutes remaining.
“It’s kind of what I expected,” said Prentiss. “The last week, I’ve watched them play several times on the computer. Brian (Kaneland coach Johnson) does a heck of a job with those guys. I knew they would be tough to beat on their home floor.”
Johnson took the blame for his team’s defensive strategy on the North Stars’ final possession.
“Goetz made a great play,” said Johnson. “I feel like I made a mistake at the end not trying to get the ball out of his hands but we had something else drawn up. I wasn’t ready for him (Goetz) to just hold on to the ball the whole time.
“Drew (David) is a real good defender,” added Johnson. “It just so happened that there was a little contact and they (referees) called it on the shot.”
Tyler Carlson’s 3-pointer put the Knights (13-9) up 51-46 with 5:39 left before a pair of baskets from the North Stars’ Erik Miller (10 points) trimmed the deficit to 53-52 with 3:22 remaining.
After Cole Carlson (8 points, 6 rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to make it 57-54 with 2:32 left, Goetz provided a hint of things to come when he drained a coldblooded 3-pointer 12 seconds later to tie it at 57-57.
“They kind of solved our zone (defense) there for a while so I finally had to go to man,” said Prentiss. “That seemed to bother them enough so we could squeak by at the end.”
Jack Callaghan had 19 points and 9 rebounds while Jake Ludwig added 11 points and 6 assists for the North Stars, who played for their head coach.
“Tom’s dad is very ill — he’s having surgery this week in Florida,” said Prentiss. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom and his family.”
“We had to do it for Coach Poulin,” said Goetz. “He’s going through some family stuff right now. It felt good to finish it like this.”
Tyler Carlson and Drew David had 17 and 14 points, respectively, for the Knights.
“They’re a good team and I’m glad we came out and gave them a good game,” said Johnson. “We’re very lucky that St. Charles North would want to play us since they’re a bigger school. It only helps us out for tough conference games down the stretch and for the tournament.”