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La Salle-Peru junior Noah Lamboley (right) drives past Sterling senior Tanner Dewitt during the Cavaliers’ 48-46 victory in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game Friday in La Salle. Lamboley scored 24 points and hit the game-winning shot. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
The La Salle-Peru boys basketball team came out of a timeout with 29.4 seconds left and the game tied wanting to get the ball to guard Noah Lamboley.
The Cavaliers ran down the clock before getting the ball to Lamboley.
The junior drove the right side, got to the baseline and pulled up for a jumper with 6.6 seconds left to give L-P a two-point lead.
The Cavs then survived two more possessions by Sterling to hang on to win the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game 48-44 despite playing without two starters.
“We knew we wanted the ball in Noah’s hands,” L-P coach Jim Cherveny said. “A lot of those last-second shots, the defense is scrambling and the offense is scrambling. Noah just made a phenomenal basketball play. Instinct took over. He knew it was the moment and he trusted himself.”
Lamboley’s shot allowed the Cavs to stay unbeaten in conference play without Jens Soderholm and Cameron Hight.
Soderholm averages an area-leading 21.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, while Hight is L-P’s third-leading scorer at 7.6 points per game.
“I thought we played real well, especially without Jens — our leading scorer — and Cam — a big part of our offense,” said senior Bret Storm, who stepped into the starting lineup and scored 13 points. “The whole team stepped up in a major way. We didn’t go out there and say, ‘Alright Noah, you have to take over the load.’ (Jon) VonBehren stepped up. I stepped up. The whole team stepped up. It was a great team win.”
The Cavs struggled offensively early without two of their top three scorers. L-P shot just 29.2 percent in the first half as it led 8-6 after the first quarter and 18-17 at halftime.
“I think it was partly (because we had two guys out),” Storm said. “We were trying to get in sync without our main scorer and one of our other big contributors. But I’m not going to take anything away from Sterling. They D’ed us up.”
At halftime, the Cavs discussed setting better screens and playing the tempo they wanted in the half-court offense.
Everything clicked in the third quarter.
L-P scored 24 points — half of its total for the game — in the eight minutes after halftime.
Storm scored nine of his points in the third quarter, while Lamboley and VonBehren each added five in the third.
“The third quarter has really been the quarter where we excel this year,” Cherveny said. “Coming out of halftime, the guys know that and I think they get excited for the second half.”
The Cavs (9-5, 5-0 NIB 12 West) led 42-34 entering the fourth quarter, but their offense went stagnant again in the final eight minutes and Sterling chipped away.
Alex Soriano and Sterling Thornton each hit a 3-pointer in the quarter, and Thornton drained a long 2-point shot with 1:40 left to tie the game at 46-46.
“They hit a couple big shots and they were getting to the line,” Cherveny said. “They were putting themselves in position to win by shooting the ball well, getting some open looks and getting to the line.”
L-P missed a shot on it’s ensuing possession, but then forced the Golden Warriors (7-10, 2-2 NIB 12 West) into a turnover.
Following Lamboley’s game-winner, Sterling tried to throw a long pass out of a L-P timeout, but it was knocked away for a turnover.
L-P then missed a free throw to give the Golden Warriors one more shot.
Out of another timeout, Sterling threw another long pass that was tipped. Logan Wharf picked it up and heaved a desperation 3-pointer that fell well short.
“I think that was our best game of the season overall,” Cherveny said. “With a little bump in the road with Jens being out and Cam Hight being out, I thought that was the hardest fought battle we’ve seen all season.”
Notes: Soderholm was suspended for the game. His status for tonight’s game against Princeton is uncertain because of his health as he’s been battling both a sore Achilles tendon and groin. Hight broke his right thumb. He will visit an orthopedic doctor on Tuesday. A timetable on his return is not yet known. … The L-P sophomore team won 48-31 to move to 9-4 overall and 4-1 in the conference. Erik Milaicki scored a team-high 14 points, while Ben Bejster added seven points.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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