Zion-Benton nips Libertyville for regional title
One shot that didn't count turned out to be the best thing for Zion-Benton junior Amar Augillard.
In the waning seconds of the Class 4A Warren boys basketball regional final Friday night between No. 5 see Zion-Benton and No. 4 Libertyville, Augillard drained a long 3-pointer that would have given the Zee-Bees the lead. Only problem was, Zion called time out.
"Coach called time out," Augillard said. "But it got me ready, got me more focused."
Following the time out Augillard, who struggled all night to score, drained a 3-pointer that this time counted. The long 3-ball gave Zion a 47-46 lead, one it would not relinquish.
Augillard scored 7 of his team-best 15 points in the last 52 seconds of play lifting Zion to a wild 51-49 regional title win over Libertyville. It's the first regional crown for the Zee-Bees since 2013.
"I felt like when he saw that ball go in, that it was a trigger for him," said Zion-Benton coach Bobby Worthington. "The next play was called for him and credit to the young man."
Zion-Benton (21-10) advances to the Prospect sectional semifinals Tuesday night where it will face No. 1 seed Stevenson, a 37-31 winner over Highland Park Friday.
"I can't put this into words," Augillard said. "Ever since we got here I wanted this -- we all wanted this. I am just so happy we were able to get this."
The effort from Augillard offset another brilliant performance from Libertyville senior Will Moore.
Moore scored 15 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, draining big shot after big shot to bring the Wildcats back and eventually give them the lead.
"It just shows the type of person he is," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski "He's a guy that wants to win. He's a guy that doesn't want to fail. And most importantly, he's a great person with an incredibly bright future ahead of him."
Libertyville (19-12) used an 8-3 run to end the third quarter and start the fourth to take a 41-36 lead with 4:19 left. Moore started the run with an offensive rebound and putback. Then Marc Michelotti capped it with a runner in the lane to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the night.
But back came Zion.
With Augillard on the bench with 4 fouls, Kaleb Naylor stepped up in his place. Naylor finished with 12 points and it was his steal and tip-in that started the Zion comeback. A steal and a bucket from Jahkai Ransom gave the Zee-Bees the lead back at 42-41 with 2:29 left.
"There were so many plays where a ball got tipped or a shot rimmed out tonight," Zyrkowski said. "That play there was a big one and gave them the lead."
Without hesitation Moore and the Wildcats struck back. Moore drilled a long 3-pointer from the far corner to give the Wildcats the lead back at 44-42 with 2:15 left. The senior followed it up with a tip-in for the final two points of his Libertyville career and a 46-44 advantage.
"I was just feeling it tonight," said Moore who also snared 9 rebounds. "My teammates went to me tonight. It's a regional championship game. I shot my shots and they went in."
Augillard scored the next 7 points and Libertyville simply couldn't recover.
"I think the most important thing is I won't get to work with these guys tomorrow," Zyrkowski said. "These guys are fighters, they are winners and I am so proud of each and every one of them. This is hard."
Blake Ellingson (10 points) and Chase Bonder (10 points) also reached double figures for Libertyville. Demontae Taylor added 11 points for Zion.