Boys Basketball: Joliet Catholic outlasts Pontiac in two overtimes
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media March 12, 2014 9:30PM
Joliet Catholic's Luke Mander finishes a fast break with a a lay up against Pontiac. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 14, 2014 11:03AM
Having picked up his fifth foul minutes earlier, Joliet Catholic’s Luke Mander found himself on the bench in the closing seconds of the second overtime in Wednesday night’s Class 3A Rich East Sectional semifinal.
All he could do was watch — with dread.
Back-and-forth momentum swings. Crazy buckets under pressure. This game had it all for a sectional match-up with two teams that weren’t supposed to be there.
“The shot sure looked good,” Mander said with a smile. “I really didn’t want it to go in.”
The shot? Pontiac’s Drew Mills hoisted a shot from 30 feet out as time expired. Joliet Catholic’s surprise playoff run had a little more magic on this day as Mills’ shot was too strong, preserving a Joliet Catholic 53-52 win in double overtime.
Joliet Catholic (12-20) will face defending 3A state champ Morgan Park at 7 p.m. Friday for the sectional title.
Harold Davis (11 points), Colton Kolowski (10), Drake Fellows (10 points, 15 rebounds) and Mander (10) powered Joliet Catholic. Mills (18 points) and Neil Lambert (17 points) paced Pontiac (9-18), which hit 10-of-30 from three-point range.
“Getting the energy off the bench and from the crowd helped a lot,” Fellows said. “We were pumped up, especially because we’re not supposed to be here. We’re making history in JCA basketball.”
Having survived a Pontiac jumper rolling off the rim to end regulation and watching the Indians hit a late three-pointer in the first overtime, the Hilltoppers turned to Mander late in the second overtime.
With the game tied at 49, Mander, who was playing through a twisted left ankle, fought his way into traffic for a basket with 40 seconds to go, somehow getting a shot up.
“The ankle is a little sore,” Mander said. “(In overtime), we’re just trying to stay together as a team. I pump-faked, went into the defender and laid it off the glass.”
While the final 40 seconds proved to be quite eventful, with three timeouts and missed free throws in abundance, Mander’s score proved to be the game-winner.
Lambert split two free throws with four seconds remaining in the second overtime to cut the deficit to 53-52. After Joliet Catholic’s Jimmy Elias missed two free throws, Mills’ just-long three-pointer ended the thriller.
“You try to calm the guys down,” Hilltoppers coach Joe Gura said. “Our timeouts in overtime were some of the calmest we’ve had all year.”