ICCP falls at buzzer
It appeared Alex Meurer's runner in the lane would send IC Catholic Prep into overtime, but three seconds proved enough for Riverside-Brookfield to deny the Knights.
With two defenders in his face Zach Vaia's double-pump, 30-foot 3-pointer banked in at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a 47-44 Metro Suburban Blue victory Friday night in Elmhurst, avenging an earlier loss to the Knights.
"I knew I didn't have that strong of a game going into this, but I knew that in crunchtime I like the ball in my hands, especially me and (teammate) Ryan Cicenas, so I knew it had to be in one of our two hands. I threw it up there and the rest happened," said Vaia, a hustling senior guard who scored 10 points with 4 steals.
MSC Blue leader Riverside-Brookfield (13-9, 6-1) led 33-31 after three quarters. Over the next eight minutes the lead changed hands eight times, with four tie scores.
IC Catholic (14-7, 4-4) tied it at 42-42 when guard Kevin Cheng came around a screen to hit a 3 with 34.7 seconds left. The Bulldogs' Jason Bageanis converted inside for a 44-42 lead with 14.8 seconds to play.
After an ICCP timeout Cheng and Meurer worked a screen play at the top of the key.
"I set a screen for him, and he was guarded," Meurer said. "The guy got through the screen so I popped open. The shot wasn't there for me so I drove and was able to get it to go."
It appeared 1.9 seconds remained on the clock, but it was reset to 3.0 seconds as Riverside-Brookfield took timeout to prepare the final play.
From the end line under the Knights basket Cicenas danced around before passing to Bageanis inside the timeline. The Bulldogs' leading scorer with 17 points, Bageanis turned and passed to Vaia between the timeline and the 3-point arc. His back to the hoop, Vaia turned and tossed.
"We were messing around last Saturday working on some half-court stuff and he was nailing half-court shot after half-court shot, so I guess it worked," said Bulldogs coach Mike Reingruber.
Led by Cheng's 16 points and Khali Saunders' 10 points and 10 rebounds, IC Catholic was fortunate to be in the game after committing 17 turnovers, 10 in the first half.
"I was very proud of the way we executed in the second half and the defensive effort," said Knights coach T.J. Tyrrell. "We did an outstanding job of locking them down. Outside of that 3 I thought we were playing team defense and containing the guys we needed to contain within their offense. It was a fun atmosphere and it just didn't go our way tonight."