Castro's clutch 3 lifts Christian Liberty past Mooseheart

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/11/2015 10:49 PM

Jesse Castro is persistent.

The Christian Liberty sophomore guard had missed all 8 of the 3-point field goals he'd attempted in the Chargers' game against Mooseheart on Friday.


But Castro delivered when his team needed him most, drilling a winning shot from the far left corner with 9 seconds to play for a 52-51 victory in Arlington Heights.

"That one I felt," said Castro, who led the Chargers with 14 points. "I knew that one was going in the second I let it go."

Castro said he was looking for one for opportunity.

"I was hoping for redemption," Castro said. "I am usually am pretty good shooter. They just weren't dropping for me."

Christian Liberty coach Jed Bennett had complete confidence in Castro.

"For a sophomore to step up and make that shot with a lot of confidence that is huge," Bennett said. "I kept saying that you have to keep shooting with confidence. It is a mental game. And he stepped up and hit it."

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Castro's shot capped a wild finish for CLA (2-5, 2-1) in which the Chargers erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:37.

"We were just focused, said James Pittman, who finished 11 points and 8 rebounds. "Defense wins games. And that's what we came up with."

The Chargers began to pressure Mooseheart (1-3, 1-3), especially when the Ramblers attempted to take the ball out of bounds.

After a pair of free throws by Castro with 4:16 left, CLA forced 3 quick turnovers, all in the Mooseheart end of the court. Jordan Pratscher converted two quick baskets and Jimmy Cunningham had a putback and suddenly it was 45-42 with 3:18 to play.

Mooseheart appeared to have survived the surge when the Ramblers converted a pair of free throws with 38.8 seconds left to lead 51-46.

Cunningham nailed a trey with 32 seconds left to cut the lead to 51-49. Mooseheart then missed 4 consecutive free throws, setting the stage for Castro's shot. The Ramblers had a final opportunity, but Mark Cabrera stole the ball to preserve the victory.

"If we had lost this game,it was because we had missed so many layups," said Bennett, whose team forced 8 turnovers in the final 4:16. "I told the guys at the last timeout to just do the things that you can do. And they stepped up to the challenge."

Cabrera had 12 points for the Chargers while Cunningham finished with 7 points, all coming in the final period. He also had 9 rebounds. Pratscher added 6 points for CLA, while Mooseheart was led by Devontea Gordon, who had 16 points and Michael Lowe with 15.

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