To Libertyville boys basketball coach Brent Mork, it only felt like Maine West was ahead all game.
But when Maine West point guard Julian Dones hit his third 3 of the game with under a minute to go, it actually did give the Warriors (6-4) their only lead, 47-46, in a first-round matchup Tuesday at the Wheeling Wildcat Hardwood Classic.
What to do?
Go to your leader and clutch guy, Harrison Bach.
"He's our leader. A two-year starting point guard," said Mork.
And Bach had a much shorter player guarding him when he posted up for proved to be the game-winning basket in a 48-47 win that propelled the Wildcats to their fifth straight win and a quarterfinal date Wednesday against Niles North.
Dones couldn't shake 6-foot-3 Drew Peterson down the stretch and had his game-winning shot attempt blocked as time expired.
Libertyville (6-5) had seized and maintained control as the first half ended on Riley Gowen's buzzer-beater jumper. They took command again in the third quarter as Chase Eyre knocked down two free throws, Peterson (14 points) drove for a 3-point play, Gowen scored again on a feed from Peterson and Peterson added another jumper for a 37-26 lead -- much of this while Maine West's Milos Dugalic and Jack Framke, defensive stoppers, sat with foul problems.
Still, Libertyville did not give itself good grades for its overall performance, committing 11 turnovers, missing open looks and front ends of 1-and-1 free throws situations.
Plus, as Mork observed, "That's a good team. Their pressure made us a little uncomfortable."
That, and perhaps some rust.
"We haven't played in two weeks," said Bach. "Our sets were off. We were diverting from them."
Maine West took advantage and rallied on the bombs-away shooting of Dones and Julian Bashir, plus Framke's ability to get to the basket and draw three free throws, in addition to feeding Matt Kentgen for the bucket that made it 46-44 and set up the closing dramatics for Dones and Bach.
Maine West coach Tom Prokopij was proud of his team's effort, rally and scrappiness.
"We need to get a win (Wednesday)," he said of a consolation bracket appearance at 9 a.m.
Bach thinks he knows how to keep it going the right direction for the Cats.
"Playing for each other," and executing the team sets, he said. "We were a bit rusty."