Daniel's putback powers Christian Liberty
Christian Liberty Academy's Ben Daniel does not want to be a watchmaker. But he still has an excellent concept of time.
Daniel's putback just before the final horn sounded helped lift the Chargers past Alden-Hebron 44-42 Friday in Arlington Heights in a Northeastern Athletic Conference boys basketball matchup.
"At the end of the game, everyone thinks there is less time left than there really is," said Daniel, a three-year starter for CLA who finished with 10 points. "So I just charged in for the rebound. I saw it come off the rim and I just put it in."
With the game tied at 42, Christian Liberty (7-10, 4-3) was inbounding the ball underneath its own basket with 7.3 seconds left. The Chargers got the ball in and Alden-Hebron immediately tried to trap the ball in the backcourt.
After a pass from Ben Kemper to Paul Weiss, Weiss took the ball down the left wing and fired up a shot with under 2 seconds left. The ball hit the rim and Daniel caught it in the air and banked it in off the backboard for the winner.
"That was not quite how we drew it up," Christian Liberty coach Jed Bennett said with a smile. "But we will take it. Always great to get a win."
Weiss, who verbally committed to Wisconsin-LaCrosse this past week, was not the featured shooter on the play.
"I was actually supposed to clean it up on the boards," Weiss said. "They tried trapping us, so Ben Kemper swung it to the other side. I got a look and Ben Daniel was there to clean up my mess."
It didn't appear to be messy for Christian Liberty heading into the final quarter with a 36-29 advantage.
The Chargers were able to get that lead thanks to the defensive pressure they were able to put on Alden Hebron. CLA forced 22 turnovers, with many of those coming in the second and third quarters when the Chargers erased a 21-11 deficit with 5:01 left in the first half.
"We missed some shots and got into fouls trouble and it got into our heads," Bennett said. "But we started to get things going defensively and that helped us on the offensive end. When we are running, we are able to put up some points."
Led by Sam Silva (12 points) and the 3-point shooting by Jordan Pratscher (9 points), the Chargers scored 15 unanswered points on their way to a 20-2 run to lead 31-23 with 4:55 left in the third quarter. During that stretch, CLA forced 14 turnovers.
"We picked things up and we able to get things going for us," Silva said. "We got some steals and fast breaks and we started to shoot much better."
But Alden-Hebron (5-11, 0-5) turned the tables on the Chargers. The Giants turned up their pressure and CLA turned the ball over on 5 consecutive possessions, closing to 41-37 with 1:05 to play.
Christian Liberty converted just 2 of 4 free throws from there and Alden-Hebron was able to tie the game on a baseline drive by Jacob Heaver (18 points) with 7.3 seconds left.
After two timeouts to set up a play, CLA was able to improvise and come up with a victory.
"We didn't have a good game offensively," Bennett said. "But this is a smart group of players who find ways to win."
Weiss, who was playing with an injured left wrist from the Chargers' game Thursday, finished with 9 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 senior was ecstatic about his team's win, along with his decision to play at LaCrosse.
"They have a great program and a really good school," said Weiss, who averages 13 points and 10 rebounds. "I think I can make a difference there next fall."