Dundee-Crown junior Kiwi Seals thought his shot felt good when it left his hand with time running out and McHenry clinging to a 1-point lead in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball game.
Then Seals and the Chargers felt a bit uneasy as Seals’ pull-up 10-footer from the left of the lane over two defenders spun around the rim.
“I felt pretty confident,” Seals said. “Then I got a little nervous and said, ‘This sucker had better stay down.’ ”
It did just before the final buzzer sounded and the Chargers rushed the court to celebrate a 49-48 victory that spoiled McHenry’s senior night at its West Campus on Friday night.
“It was exciting,” said D-C 6-foot-4 junior Juwan Stewart, who provided his share with a team-high 16 points on 8-for-9 shooting and 5 rebounds.
“I thought it was going out,” said coach Lance Huber half-jokingly in a season where a lot of things haven’t rolled the Chargers’ way. “It was nice to see and I’m happy for the guys. I thought they played really, really hard tonight and it’s always tough playing here.”
D-C (7-16, 3-8) hung tough despite losing 51-37 a month ago to the Warriors (10-13, 3-8) and falling behind 19-9 in the first 10 minutes.
The Chargers got within 23-18 at halftime and erupted for 20 third-quarter points on 8-for-13 shooting with no turnovers. Nick Munson drew a pair of charging fouls and a 3-point play by Seals (9 points) and a floating one-hander in the lane by Malik Dunner put them up 43-36 with 5:29 left.
“We moved the ball around and didn’t panic and didn’t force it,” Stewart said after hitting his last 7 shots.
“Coach always tells us to let the offense do what it does and it will create shots for everyone,” Seals said. “In the second half we let the offense come to us.”
McHenry came back as Kyle Postal (19 points) turned his fourth 3-pointer in as many attempts into a 4-point play and Cody Freund (18 points) hit his third 3 to tie it at 43-43 at 4:11.
“It was just fun to see the competitiveness,” said McHenry coach Tim Paddock. “They fought hard the entire game to get themselves in position to win.”
After D-C took nearly 1 1-2 minutes off the clock, Stewart banked in a hanging 8-footer on the run for a 47-45 lead at 1:04.
Freund answered with a driving 3-point play at 0:41, but after a turnover, McHenry missed a 1-and-1 with 23 seconds left to give D-C one more shot.
Out of a timeout with 14 seconds left, Cordero Parson looked to penetrate and find Nick Munson coming off a triple screen. But Seals popped open near the free throw line and came through on a night where he made his last two shots after missing 7 of his first 8 from the field.
“I feel like this is a big confidence boost for us,” Seals said. “To come to an environment like this, we played through it together and a lot of people came through.”