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Bartlett was in trouble as soon as the Elgin boys basketball team reached the bonus with 6:49 left in a tied game.
Unhappy with his team's shot selection early in the third quarter, Elgin coach Mike Sitter made use of the 5 quick fouls whistled against Bartlett by switching to a delay offense.
Soon thereafter, Bartlett committed its seventh foul by reaching in against Elgin senior post Ryan Sitter on the perimeter. He calmly sank 2 free throws to give the Maroons the lead for good.
Sophomore Desmond Douglas was likewise fouled on the perimeter on Elgin's next possession and drained a pair of foul shots that staked the Maroons to a 4-point cushion.
On and on it went.
"I just thought if we could get to the bonus pretty quick, we could win this game at the free throw line," Mike Sitter said.
Elgin -- a team shooting 75 percent from the line in the second half of the season -- wore out a path to the charity stripe. The Maroons sank 15 of 18 attempts in the final period and 22 of 27 overall to knock off Bartlett 55-53 in the Upstate Eight Conference's fifth-place crossover game at Chesbrough Field House Thursday night.
"I thought the calls went against us and it affected us both in our attitude on the floor and in the way we played the game," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said, "but Elgin hit 22 of (27) free throws. We were 8 of 17. We have to take care of our own business. We missed free throws and we missed layups. Both of those decide a close game."
Elgin used those free throws to build a 53-44 lead with 47 seconds to play, but Bartlett made it interesting with some late sharpshooting. Junior Ryan DiCanio sank a 3-pointer and the Hawks forced a 5-second call via their full-court pressure to regain possession. Sophomore Robbie Jimenez then drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to draw the Hawks within 53-50 with 25 seconds left.
Elgin's Isaiah Butler split 2 free throws two seconds later to make it a 4-point game, and Jimenez's next 3-point try was off the mark. Ryan Sitter hustled for the long rebound in the corner, sprawled on the floor to retrieve it and called timeout with 14 seconds left.
After Butler was fouled and split another pair to make it 55-50, Jordon Anderson sank Bartlett's third 3-pointer in a 36-second span to make it a 2-point game with 6 seconds remaining. However, time ran out as the Hawks' attempt to draw a delay-of-game penalty by grabbing the ball to stop the clock did not pan out.
"They made more 50-50 plays," Jimenez said. "We should have been on the ground more, hustling, making our free throws, the easy stuff. That's basically what it came down to."
Sophomore Desmond Douglas led Elgin's free throw cavalcade. The 5-foot-7 sophomore made all 10 of his free-throw attempts. It was a big improvement over his 2-of-7 showing from the line in a 6-point loss to St. Charles East last week.
"Against St. Charles East I feel we missed way too many of them, so all week in practice after running up and down coach always makes us shoot free throws like it's a game situation. We're tired."
DiCanio finished with 17 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, and Jimenez finished with 12 points to lead Bartlett (14-14).
Butler led a balanced attack for Elgin (10-16) with 11 points while Sitter added 10, Desmond Sanders had 9 points and 5 rebounds and Lavion Baldwin contributed 7 points and 7 rebounds.