Those watching as South Elgin's boys basketball team hosted Glenbard East Saturday had no inkling that they were in for a wild finish. Not when the Storm took a 58-40 lead early in the fourth quarter. It looked as if South Elgin would basically run out the clock and chalk up the victory.
But the Rams had other ideas.
Their lethal combination of suffocating full-court pressure and white-hot 3-point shooting quickly turned a would-be blowout into a tight game, which they won in overtime.
James Peterkin made 1 of 2 free throws with no time left in overtime to secure Glenbard's 74-73 win in their Upstate Eight Valley opener in South Elgin.
Alijah Nelson hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and another in overtime to finish with 27 points for Glenbard East (5-2, 1-0).
Vincent Miszkiewicz scored 25 points for South Elgin (5-1, 0-1).
Noah Rohr was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and made all 3 foul shots to put the Storm ahead 58-40. Nelson answered with a 3-pointer. That's when all heck broke loose. The Rams' pressure led to steals on 5 straight possessions. Those turnovers resulted in four 3-pointers and a layup, making it 58-47 in a span of 1:25.
Nelson made 2 of the 3s and Kordante Davis made the other 2 as well as the 2-pointer.
South Elgin led 67-64, but Nelson's 3-pointer tied it with 24 seconds left. Jace Warrick's shot rimmed out for South Elgin, sending it to overtime.
Nelson converted a 4-point play to put the Rams ahead 73-69. The Storm fought back to tie it again. With time running out, Peterkin rebounded a missed shot. As he was about to put it back in, he was fouled by Miszkiewicz as the buzzer sounded.
His first shot rimmed out, but the second went through, touching off a wild celebration on the Glenbard Eastside.
"We've experienced being up and then letting up," said Nelson. "So in this game, when we got down, we told each other that we're just going to keep fighting. The whole team kept fighting, even the bench. When we did that, shots started becoming open and the defense locked up, so that allowed us to get the lead."
The Rams tried unsuccessfully to pressure the Storm in the first half. Trailing big in the fourth quarter, they had little choice but to try again, with better results.
"In the first half, they played awfully, awfully well," said Glenbard East coach Scott Miller. "We tried pressuring them, we couldn't, they had open shots. In the second half, we had to pull back a little bit. In the fourth quarter, we had to go back to it a little bit with nothing to lose. We were able to fortunately cause some turnovers and create some extra opportunities for us."
"We put ourselves in a position to win the game early," said South Elgin coach Brett Johnson. "I felt like we were the better team tonight, but Glenbard East did what they had to do to win the game. I tell my kids, don't put the game in the hands of anyone but yourselves, and we put that game in the hands of somebody else tonight by not keeping the lead and letting decisions affect how we played the game."
Davis finished with 14 points for Glenbard East, as did Kenny Adams.
Rohr had 19 points and 7 rebounds for South Elgin. Miszkiewicz also had 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Warrick and David Binion finished with 11 points each for the Storm.