Batavia pulls out narrow win over St. Charles East
Alex Taylor simply slid over into the lane on instinct.
Taylor, Batavia's senior guard, picked a few opportune moments to rely on it during Batavia's 50-44 victory over St. Charles East on Friday.
With 6.5 seconds left and Batavia nursing a two-point lead after Bulldogs guard Trent Tousana missed a free throw, Saints guard AJ Gaca drove to the basket, but was tagged with a costly offensive foul.
Taylor somehow slid in and stabilized just enough for the charge.
"I don't know if it was Trent who got beat [off the dribble], but [someone did] and I just slid over, went on the block and just took [the contact]," said Taylor, who finished with five points and three rebounds.
Gaca thought Taylor was going to get whistled for a blocking call, but to no avail.
"I felt he came over really late and they both [Taylor and Ethan Ivan] just kind of stepped right in there," Gaca said. "But, I mean, at the end of the day, it's the ref's call, so I can't do anything about it."
On the Bulldogs' inbound, Gaca nearly was able to force a turnover on the tipped pass in. The ball bounced just enough in Tousana's direction along the far baseline, and he was able to scoop it up to Taylor farther up the sideline.
Taylor then calmly swished two free throws with 1.7 seconds left. Tousana tacked on two more free throws for insurance points.
"I want to stay as calm as possible because then I'm going to feel more free on my free throws," Taylor said.
While Batavia (19-10, 7-6) secured the victory, both teams endured long stretches of offensive stagnation and missed shots. Ultimately, perhaps an opportune call in the Bulldogs' direction and closing it out on the free-throw line made the difference.
Batavia had a 45-40 lead with 40 seconds remaining after Ivan's layup, but Saints junior guard Steven Call (14 points, three rebounds) answered with a layup and Rahul Gor (13 points, 13 rebounds) followed with one of his own to make it a one-point game.
The Bulldogs called timeout with 23 seconds left and following the quick break, Call was whistled for a foul on Charlie Saul on a steal attempt, which the Saints bench was hit with a technical foul in the aftermath. Ivan split two free throws to make it a two-point game and set the table for the finish.
Jack Borri, who had eight points, was another bright spot for the Saints (3-23, 1-13), who lost yet another game in the final minute.
While the record isn't reflective of their quality of play, the Saints are keeping their focus on a "growth mindset."
"We're just going to come out, focus on the next game, put our past behind us and do what we can do and try our best," Gaca said.
"St. Charles East is a very good team. They've lost a ton of games down to the wire. They don't quit," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "They keep playing. Everybody knows how good they are, even though people want to look at the record. It's totally not indicative of who they are, how they play."
Saints coach Pat Woods "loved the battle."
"We got better. Last time we played them, we lost by ," Woods said. "We had a chance. We were in that game until the last few seconds."