With Keita Bates-Diop a spectator, Malik Wildermuth delivered.
With the Ohio State-bound Bates-Diop on the bench having fouled out in Saturday’s game against Chicago Morgan Park, Normal U-High’s Wildermuth asked to take the final shot and then delivered as he banked in the game-winning layup in traffic with two-tenths of a second left in overtime to lift Class 3A No. 9 U-High to a thrilling 66-65 OT victory over 3A No. 2 Morgan Park.
“It was just a great, gutsy performance on the part of our kids,” U-High coach Bob Fitzgerald told the Bloomington Pantagraph. “It was back and forth the whole time. To find a way to eke it out at the end, I can’t be more proud of our ballclub.”
Morgan Park’s Josh Cunningham, one of the country’s top uncommitted seniors, made the game-tying layup with 16 seconds left in regulation.
Bates-Diop attempted to win the game for U-High but had the ball poked away in the final seconds. Bates-Diop fouled out with 3.8 seconds to play as he tried to regain possession.
Bates-Diop finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Cunningham also scored 21 points.
The perils of being No. 1
Rockridge got a taste of what being ranked No. 1 is going to be like for the rest of the season.
It got Kewanee’s best shot on Friday.
In a Three Rivers Conference South Division game against 2A No. 10 Kewanee, 2A No. 1 Rockridge took the Boilermakers best shot in the first half and then settled in during the second half to pull away for a 74-54 victory.
“I think we calmed down,” Rockridge coach Toby Whiteman told the Moline Dispatch-Rock Island Argus of the difference between halves. “The biggest thing in the first half was that Kewanee came out with more energy, and got after it. Once we settled down, we were able to take care of things, but we have to expect this from any team we play.”
Rockridge senior star and Wisconsin recruit Ethan Happ scored a game-high 31 points for the Rockets, who improved to 15-0 this season and 3-0 in the TRC South.
Happ also limited Kewanee sophomore star Donovan Oliver to just nine points.
No. 1 goes down
Zion-Benton now has the attention of the rest of the state.
In Friday’s North Suburban Lake game in Zion, the Zee-Bees’ Milik Yarbrough hit a 3-pointer late to force overtime and teammate Fred Calvert hit a runner with nine seconds left in OT to lift 4A No. 7 Zion-Benton to a 70-69 OT upset of 4A No. 1 Stevenson.
“It is a statement game, a statement we wanted to make,” Yarbrough told the Chicago Tribune. “We just wanted to come out and get a lot of help from our bench. I think we have one of the best benches in the state, and we showed that.”
The Zee-Bees also showed they’re not to be overlooked thanks to Yarbrough, who finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and is closing in on Lake County ‘s career scoring record.
Cliff Alexander is usually the one who does the dunking in games.
Seeing someone else do it Sunday didn’t sit well with him.
After seeing North Chicago’s Kurt Hall put down some dunks in Sunday’s game at Thornton Fractional North’s Bob Hambric Memorial Shootout in Calumet City, it awoke Alexander and a sluggish Chicago Curie squad as 4A No. 3 Curie rallied to beat 3A No. 4 North Chicago 75-59.
“We started off sluggish,” Alexander, who led Curie’s rally to win a showcase game in Kentucky Friday, told the Chicago Tribune. “(Hall’s dunks) woke us up big time. If I see another player getting off, it’s time for me to step up and play my game.”
The Kansas-bound Alexander finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots in the win.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.