DeKalb charges by Burlington Central in final minute
Zach Russell hit buzzer-beaters to end the second and third quarters Saturday, but his defensive play late against Burlington Central ensured he didn't need a third.
The DeKalb junior drew charges on layups that went in during the final two minutes, once with the game tied and once with the Barbs up two, and DeKalb held off Burlington Central, 51-48, in the final game of pool play in the Rockets' Martin Luther King Jr. tournament.
"He's a guy that makes winning plays," DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said. "We've got a team full of those guys and it was Zach's day today. Thank God he was on our team. Cause picking up five points at the end of quarters and the two charges were huge. I'm just glad we didn't need a third buzzer-beater from him."
With the game tied at 46 and 1:46 left, Jake Lenschow went to the hoop for the Rockets (13-6) and was called for the charge. Daniel Brown hit a layup down the other end after the Barbs (17-3) ran the clock down to :57.1 left in the game's 13th and final lead change.
Zac Schmidt drove on the next possession for the Rockets, and again Russell drew the charge with 42.4 seconds left.
"That's a pretty big swing and switches momentum to our side," Russell said.
DeKalb's Avery Medina hit a free throw to push the lead to 50-46, then Lenschow had a shot at a three-point play but missed the free throw. The rebound went out of bounds off DeKalb. Carson Seyller put up a shot and missed and then Nick Carpenter had the rebound and missed on what would have been the tying shot.
The ball off Carpenter's miss went out of bounds off Burlington Central, and Russell made a free throw with 7.1 seconds left. Lenschow missed a tying 3 at the buzzer.
"I mean if we make the free throws it's a six-point swing if we made it to the free-throw line," Burlington Central coach Brett Porto said of the charges. "Unfortunately we didn't get the call for whatever reason on either one."
Burlington Central led by as much as six early but Russell's first buzzer-beater before halftime, a putback, cut the Rockets' lead to 25-21.
DeKalb scored the first six points of the second half, and its 27-25 lead was its first of more than one point. Russell's 3 at the buzzer at the end of the third put DeKalb back on top to end the period, 35-33.
"Everyone on this team makes big plays," Russell said. "But when the clock is running down I want to get the ball and just put the ball in the basket. That's all I'm trying to do."
Burlington Central finished with a 29-23 edge on the boards.
"We talked when we were playing Huntley and Peoria Notre Dame, teams like that, that we could have rebounded the ball better in some of those games," Porto said. "DeKalb has some guys that put in a good effort on the boards, and we really wanted to win the boards today. ... We battled for 32 minutes on the glass."
The Barbs will face Lyons for the title on Monday, while Central faces Waubonsie Valley for third place.