Don't they know the history here?
Antioch just doesn't win regional titles in boys basketball -- or so it went for two decades.
And then the Sequoits broke the streak, a year ago.
Well, make it two in a row for the team near the Wisconsin border. Coach Jim White's underdog team led virtually wire to wire on Friday night in the Carmel Catholic gym. Yes, it got close -- very close.
Senior guard Ben Gutke hit his free throws down the stretch as Antioch (10-17) prevailed over Carmel 61-54. The Sequoits' reward is a Tuesday matchup with top seed North Chicago in the Class 3A sectional hosted by Antioch.
"In the beginning of the season, I was hitting about 30 percent on my free throws,'' Gutke said. "I spent countless hours in a park in my neighborhood and it helped tonight. We lost Reece Eldridge (to fouls), but we kept our poise tonight."
Carmel (13-17) forged a few ties early and then watched the guests go on a run late in the opening quarter. On the first of four 3-pointers from Logan Weber (15 points), the Antioch lead was 15-6.
"This is incredible,'' Weber exclaimed. "We gave such a good effort tonight.
Our defense was tough. And now, we've won two regionals in a row."
Carmel went until the final half-minute of the second quarter to tally its first basket. That came on a steal and bucket from sophomore Evan Myers (9 points). Antioch led 23-16 at the break.
"We talked about having a legacy after last year,'' Antioch coach Jim White said. "We were a .500 club in January and then we lost to Lakes. We lost a lot of close games. But now we are going to home to the sectional."
In the second half, John Barr (8 points) scored on back-to-back plays to open the Carmel scoring. However, Antioch sophomore Daniel Filippone (10 points) answered back with two scores of his own. The Antioch lead was 38-33 heading to the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was not for the faint of heart. Weber found the range on back-to-back 3s. And when Michael Kawell landed his lone 3-pointer, the Antioch lead looked solid.
In the meantime, Carmel 6-foot-5 sophomore Jonathan Roeser (12 points, 8 rebounds) began to get to the basket. His 3-point play cut the Antioch lead to 49-45. Both Roeser and Reece Eldridge were lost to fouls. Eldridge had a fast start with 8 points in the opening quarter; he finished with 12 points and 7 boards.
On a bucket from Zion Kilpatrick, the Antioch lead was down to a single basket (49-47).
This was about the time when Gutke headed to the foul line. He led all scorers with 17 points. He also nailed 6 free throws in a row in the final minute.
"We were hoping for a play-in game,'' Gutke said. "It was a tune-up game and it was a gift. We had the same feeling tonight. Every team is 0-0 in the playoffs."