Crystal Lake South rallies from 11 down, maintains FVC lead
The Crystal Lake South boys basketball team's path to a Fox Valley Conference title has been blocked for 25 years, but the Gators cleared a major impediment Saturday with a 49-47 comeback win over visiting Dundee-Crown.
CL South fell behind by 11 points late in the third quarter when D-C senior Jack Michalski turned a steal into a breakaway dunk and a 39-28 Chargers lead with 1:08 left in the period.
The Gators responded with a 12-0 run to take the lead and weathered four lead changes in the final four and half minutes. They pulled out the Fox Valley Conference victory when a final bank-shot attempt by D-C guard Damarion Butler -- on a drive defended closely by Ben Geske -- bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
The win kept CL South (19-6, 10-3) in sole possession of first place with three conference games to play. The Gators have not won the FVC since 1994.
"Growing up through the program, ever since age six you want to win conference, you want to win a regional and that's in view for us," said CL South senior Matt Reall, who scored 9 of his 11 points in the second half. "We just have to play as a team and not get ahead of ourselves."
Had Dundee-Crown (16-7, 8-5) prevailed, it would have created a five-way tie for first place in the FVC. Instead, the Chargers slipped to fifth, two games behind CL South. There is a three-way tie for second place between Cary-Grove (17-6, 9-4), Hampshire (15-11, 9-4), and Crystal Lake Central (15-10, 9-4).
Dundee-Crown led 28-23 at halftime but was unable to finish what it started. The Chargers missed a pair of free throws that could have extended the lead to 13 late in the third quarter only to see Tyler Miller sink a 3-pointer at the other end that drew the Gators within 38-31.
D-C was whistled for a foul early in the fourth quarter and was slapped with a technical foul for arguing. Geske sank 3 of 4 free throws and Miller scored on a drive to make it a 5-point trip and a 3-point game.
Geske later scored inside after a D-C turnover and his 2 free throws with 4:55 gave the Gators their first lead since the opening minutes.
Still, the Chargers had chances. The game was tied 47-47 when 6-foot-6 senior forward Brad Stec, who led D-C with 13 points and 11 rebounds, could not get a contested layup to fall.
Reall grabbed the rebound, was fouled with 32.9 seconds left and sank 2 free throws for what proved to be the winning margin for CL South.
The Chargers had a chance to regain the lead after junior guard Kyle Huber fought his way through a screen, but his 3-point attempt missed the mark. Reall was fouled with 4.9 seconds left but missed both free throws, leaving the door open.
Following a CL South timeout, D-C inbounded to Butler. He dribbled over midcourt with Geske already hounding him and eventually got a shot off in time. It didn't fall.
"We had our chances," Dundee-Crown coach Lance Huber said. "We were up 11. We missed two free throws and (Miller) comes down and hits a three. You've got to make your free throws and you have to make your layups. We had some great opportunities and great looks at the basket. It just didn't go in. We had a chance and we didn't take advantage of it."
Junior Tyler Miller led the Gators with 14 points, highlighted by a 3-pointer that gave his team a 47-45 lead with two minutes left.
Michalski finished with 8 points for Dundee-Crown.