Entering Friday's boys basketball game with a 2-2 conference record and hosting one of four teams unbeaten in Interstate Eight Conference play, Lisle had little margin for error against Streator.
"We know every single conference game we have to go out and try to get a win," said Lisle senior Mark McGrath.
It worked on Friday, the Lions' 40-37 victory dealing Streator its first league setback.
"Realistically there are probably five teams still in the hunt. If we had lost tonight we wouldn't have been one of them," said Lisle coach Mark LaScala, who believes the eventual champion might take two losses.
"I think this keeps our hopes alive because I think teams are going to beat each other up a little bit," he said.
Lisle (8-8, 3-2) trailed Streator by 5 points with 5:09 left to play and by 3 points with 1:28 left.
Down 37-34, McGrath hit a 17-footer to get within 37-36 of Streator (7-6, 3-1). Lisle then forced a turnover, Grant Haen getting the ball and alertly calling timeout.
Back in play, Lisle's Josh Jamison fed McGrath inside. The Bulldogs' D'Angelo Pryor rejected McGrath's short shot, but the ball came right back to McGrath, who went back up for a 38-37 Lions lead with 32 seconds remaining.
"I was thinking, thank you, it went right back to me and it didn't go flying," said McGrath, who scored a game-high 18 points.
Streator missed a 20-footer on the other end and McGrath grabbed his 13th rebound. Simultaneously, Trevor Stitt was fouled and the 11-point scorer made two free throws with 8.8 seconds left. Streator's John Beckendorf missed a long 3 try and Lisle's Bryan O'Connell corralled the final rebound.
"It's a tough one, a tough one," said Streator coach Beau Doty, whose Bulldogs were led in scoring by Adam Brown's 10 points. "You're up on the road late, you've got to close those out. Tip your hat to Lisle, they made plays in the last two and a half minutes and we didn't."
Lisle shot only 36 percent, but in a game LaScala had hoped would be a grinder the Lions held Streator to 33 percent from the floor. Lisle seemed to have an edge in hustle plays with Jay McGrath also bagging a fourth-quarter steal.
"I think we've been playing at a high level all season," Haen said. "I just think we've had some screwups toward the end in some games and we haven't been able to finish the games. And I think tonight with our rebounding and defense we were able to finish the game out strong."