Prairie Ridge tips Crystal Lake South in OT
Crystal Lake South was reinvigorated after Cooper LePage's driving basket with 4.5 seconds remaining tied the score and sent its game against Prairie Ridge into overtime.
The Gators were determined to take advantage on that new lease, but the Wolves and forward James Muse had other ideas.
Muse, who was a force on both ends the entire game, stole a ball from LePage and scored a layup to start overtime. Later, when LePage drove for the go-ahead basket, Muse swooped in to block it, gathered the rebound and whipped a pass to Cade Collins for a layup on the other end.
The Wolves held off South for a 55-51 victory for the Consolation B bracket title at Jacobs' Hinkle Holiday Classic on Tuesday at the Eagles' Next.
"I thought they competed and battled to the end," Wolves coach Ryan Smith said. "Mentally we were much more engaged. There was an opportunity for us to get rattled and we found a way to learn how to win."
Muse finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots.
"I was more aggressive," the 6-foot-3 junior said. "I wasn't thinking much, my teammates gave me open looks and I wanted to rebound and contest shots. All year we've been leaving the first half and not coming out of the gate in the second half strong."
The Wolves (6-6) were headed down that same road, but reversed that trend with the overtime surge.
Prairie Ridge jumped up on South (9-5) and led 31-19 late in the first half. The Gators' Zach Peltz scored the last basket of the half and opened the second half with two 3-pointers to start a 13-0 run and give the Gators a 32-31 lead.
Drew Rightmyer and Muse hit 3s after that and the Wolves never trailed again, but South hung close.
LePage hit a 3 late in the fourth to cut the lead to 45-43, then drove hard to the basket for a tying layup.
With the score at 49-49 and 50 seconds remaining, LePage drove to the basket, but was denied by Muse.
"I saw him. I thought I had it too," LePage said. "Good defense by him."
Muse came from the help side to block the shot, South's Isaiah Kirkeeng tried for a tip-in, then Muse grabbed the rebound for the outlet pass to Collins.
"It's overtime, I just have to make that play," Muse said.
South came back down for a chance to tie, but the Wolves' Zach Lindquist picked off a pass and scored a layup for a 53-49 lead.
"I was playing the passing lane and saw Cooper, who I was guarding and didn't want him to get the ball," Lindquist said. "I didn't think he was going to pass it and he ended up passing and I was right there. No one was in front of me and I just sealed it off.
"We've been coming out hard, but our problem has been in the second half, letting up, even in the second half here we let up, but we came back strong."
Jackson Otto scored 11 points and Mason Loucks added eight for Prairie Ridge. LePage and Peltz each scored 13 and Kirkeeng tossed in 11 for the Gators.
"I thought we were in a good spot there (heading into overtime)," Gators coach Matt LePage said. "We played a really poor first half, a lot of credit to PR there, they kind of kicked out butt there to start.
"We responded with a good run in the third quarter, but sometimes when it takes that much energy to come back against a good team, it takes even more to finish. We gave ourselves a chance, but we played tired in overtime."
Smith said Muse played his most complete game of the season.
"He did a nice job handling it today, found a way to finish at the rim and he was getting looks he's comfortable shooting," Smith said. "He got a lot of good looks around the rim that maybe he hasn't gotten the last few games. Defensively, rebounding and blocking shots is the best performance I've seen this year."