A transfer from St. Viator, JR Cison has spent a lot of time this season studying his new playbook.
The Lake Zurich point guard says that's been the toughest part of his transition.
"It's been hard at times not knowing plays, and also chemistry and stuff," Cison said. "But I feel like it's all starting to come together."
The Bears' chemistry and Cison's knowledge of the playbook certainly seemed spot-on Monday night. Cison came up with the play of Lake Zurich's Martin Luther King tournament when he floated in a runner down the middle of the lane as time expired to give Lake Zurich a dramatic 62-60 win over Geneva in the championship game.
Lake Zurich, which saw its 7-point fourth-quarter lead completely whittled away by Geneva's full-court press, held the ball for about 35 seconds with the game tied at 60 before setting up for the final shot.
The Bears, now 15-5 on the season, were looking for Ryan Kutsor, who was hot all game and scored a game-high 24 points. But Kutsor, the most valuable player of the tournament, got cut off on his way to the basket and kicked out to Cison on the wing. Cison dribbled hard to the middle of the lane and got a good look.
"That (a runner down the middle of the lane) is my favorite shot," said Cison, who finished with 15 points, 11 of which came in the second half. "I saw an open shot and I just took it. We were supposed to look for Kutsor on the baseline, but they collapsed on him and he kicked it to me."
It was the second buzzer-beater of Cison's varsity career. He hit one last year against Marian Catholic while he was at St. Viator.
"Those are pretty fun," Cison said of game-winners.
Geneva actually got a timeout in with 0.6 seconds left and executed a decent catch-and-shoot on a halfcourt baseball pass from Reilly Waldoch to Josh Preston. But Pretson's 3-pointer just missed.
"Kudos to our kids to come back and tie it," said Geneva coach Scott Hennig, whose full-court pressure yielded a layup by Ben Johnson off a Lake Zurich turnover to tie the score at 60-60. "I'd like to do the press more. It's something we've mixed in more."
Geneva, which had been hot from 3-point range over the tournament, drained seven 3-pointers against Lake Zurich. Jack Hood and Mitch Mascari each had three 3s.
Four players finished in double-figures for Geneva.
Hood and Jack McDonald each had 13 points while Mascari had 11 points and Johnson had 10 points. McDonald made the all-tournament team.
"We got some easy buckets off the press," Hood said. "It worked great and we were right back in the game. It was devastating to see that last shot (by Lake Zurich) go in."
Besides Kutsor and Cison, Peter DiCerbo also had double-figures for Lake Zurich. He had 14 points and made the all-tournament team.
"We knew coming in that Geneva was a really good team and I knew I was going to have to have a big game for us to win. I went out there aggressive and I hit some shots early and kind of got hot," Kutsor said. "It was a fast-paced game and we traded baskets with them throughout the whole game and JR Cison came up with a big bucket to win it for us. I've seen him hit that 1,000 times in practice.
"It's good we were able to pull it out."