There were 4 minutes, 19 seconds to play and a scrappy Lisle boys basketball squad was within 3 points when coach Kyle Kee of visiting Plano called timeout to set up the endgame strategy for his team: go to a delay that would take time off the clock and hopefully lead to a few easy baskets.
The scheme worked like a charm as 6-foot-6 senior forward Udochukwu Agomo, who had dominated Plano's scoring most of the night, turned distributor with slick layup-producing assists to Joe Secor and Darren Eiland on back-to-back possessions and a putback of a missed free throw to help the visiting Reapers escape with a 57-49 Interstate Eight Conference victory.
"We're not a team that practices a lot of slowdown, and we wanted to make clear what we wanted to do," Kee said. "They were packing it in around Agomo and we wanted to make sure our young guards were patient and they were."
"When it got to two minutes to go, we made the decision to send them to the line and they made them, and when they missed Agomo got the rebound and scored," said Lisle coach Mark LaScala.
Earlier in the game, LaScala was regretting the 8 turnovers the Lions committed and the timidity his players were showing against a bigger squad. That helped the Reapers (3-5, 1-2) jump to 12-4 and 18-8 first-quarter leads, at which time LaScala called a timeout and forcefully let his Lions know just how fainthearted their play had been to that point.
That scolding lit a fuse as Lisle (1-6, 0-3) crawled within 32-24 at halftime behind the 3-point shooting of Nick Massura and strong inside play of Jack Hennessy. The bulk of the third quarter was a 1-on-1 showdown between Agomo and Lisle's David Keleher. Plano's star ran off 11 consecutive points for his team at one point, while Keleher hit a trio of 3-pointers in scoring Lisle's first 11 points of the third frame.
Three times the Lions crept within 3 points in the quarter and trailed only 42-38 in the final 10 seconds when Agomo sprinted downcourt and slammed home Eiland's missed layup for a 44-38 Plano edge after three quarters.
Massura and Ryan Gillen hit 3-pointers to keep Lisle close, but Plano's Dahveed McKinney hit a pair of key free throws with 32 seconds left. Agomo added 2 more free throws with 15 seconds to play to finish with 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists.
"The early turnovers hurt us and their size hurt us, but we fought," said LaScala, whose squad actually outrebounded the taller Reapers 35-26. "I'm proud as heck for our effort, it was a step forward, not back, but not forward enough."