Editor’s Note: This is the final Scouting the State of the school year. It will return in September.
Beating the top three Class 2A teams in succession and advancing to the state title game was quite the challenging task for the Bloomington Central Catholic boys basketball team, so why would the Saints expect Saturday’s 2A state title game to be any different?
After BCC downed 2A No. 1 Rockridge in the sectional final, No. 3 Sterling Newman in the super-sectional and No. 2 Providence St. Mel in the state semifinals, it capped an amazing postseason run on Saturday as BCC needed three overtimes to down Nashville 76-62 to win the 2A state championship.
“I am numb,” BCC coach Jason Welch told the Bloomington Pantagraph. “We had both feet in the grave and they were throwing dirt on us. The kids just wouldn’t quit.”
With the Saints trailing 48-37 with 4:14 to play in regulation, BCC came alive and slowly chipped away.
Nick Norton hit a 3-point shot to pull the Saints to 50-48 with 51.7 seconds to go, and teammate Austin Holman went 1-for-2 on back-to-back trips to the free throw line to tie the game at 50-50 with 29.1 seconds remaining.
With a chance to win the state title in regulation, Nashville committed a turnover on its last possession to send the game into overtime.
In the first OT, a three-point play by Holman gave BCC a 56-54 lead with 48.4 seconds to play, but two free throws from Nashville’s Royce Newman with 30.1 seconds left tied the contest and sent the game into another overtime.
In the second OT, Newman again tied the game late when he put in a bucket to force a third overtime.
In the third OT, BCC finally broke away as it outscored Nashville 14-0 to pull out the instant-classic victory.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” Welch told the Pantagraph. “I don’t think we were rated all year. People don’t give us state recognition because we lose games, but I think we’re 27-0 against 2A schools. If you were going to pick out a team that deserved a state championship, we would be high on that list.”
Far from over
Glenbard North knew Friday’s Class 4A Bartlett Sectional was far from over at halftime.
Everyone else, however, wasn’t so certain.
Despite allowing 52 first-half points and trailing by 20 at intermission against Berwyn-Cicero Morton, the Panthers rallied in the second half as they took the lead for good with two minutes to play and held on for a thrilling 84-81 comeback victory.
“A bunch of guys had their heads down at halftime, but we knew this game wasn’t over,” Glenbard North star Jeremiah Fleming told the Chicago Sun-Times. “The last thing we are is quitters and we got it done in the second half.”
After trailing 52-32 at halftime, Glenbard North switched to an extended zone and outscored Morton 29-13 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 65-61 heading to the final frame.
The Panthers didn’t take the lead until two minutes left in the game, but once they did, Glenbard North held on down the stretch for the win.
Glenbard North will play Benet at 7 tonight in the Hinsdale Central Super-Sectional.
Lincoln laughs last
Lincoln got the last laugh Friday.
Eying a third and decisive showdown with Springfield Lanphier in the 3A Mattoon Sectional final, No. 2 Lanphier was upset by Champaign Central on Tuesday.
Instead of facing Lanphier — which handed Lincoln one of its two losses this season on Jan 17 — No. 1 Lincoln instead got revenge on Champaign Central, which handed Lincoln its other loss on Jan. 18.
Lincoln’s Max Cook opened the second half on a 5-0 run that propelled the Railers to 47-30 sectional-winning victory.
“Most coaches get to the point where they all want the season to come to an end,” Lincoln coach Neil Alexander — basking in the win and the lights from five television cameras — told the Springfield State Journal-Register. “I could coach this group forever. They are an outstanding group.”
It’s Lincoln’s first sectional title since 2007. The Railers will face Cahokia at 7 tonight in the Springfield Prairie Capital Convention Center Super-Sectional.
Twice as nice
The city of Rockford will have two chances to advance to state tonight.
Class 3A Rockford Lutheran and 4A Rockford Auburn both advanced to today’s NIU Super-Sectional with sectional victories on Friday.
Lutheran advanced after pulling out a dramatic victory over Sycamore.
The Big Northern Conference West Division champions trailed by a point in the final minute, but football star running back James Robinson laid in the go-ahead layup with 19 seconds to play to lift the Crusaders to a 59-57 victory in the 3A Hampshire Sectional final.
“We just kept believing,” Robinson told the Rockford Register-Star. “This team does that. We just dig deep, and will ourselves to the win.”
While Lutheran pulled out the thrilling victory, Auburn also rallied to win the 4A Elgin Sectional over South Elgin, which was the No. 4 seed in its regional.
In a seesaw game, the Northern Illinois Conference champions took a 14-point first-quarter lead only to fall behind by 10 points in the third quarter.
However, Auburn rallied and took a 14-point lead late in the fourth quarter before finally earning an 83-73 victory.
It was Auburn’s third sectional title in four years.
“It stunk,” Auburn’s Antonie Pittman told the Register-Star of falling behind by 10 points. “It was gut-check time. We just knew we needed this W. We don’t want to go home.”
With the win, Rockford Lutheran will meet Peoria Notre Dame at 6 tonight in the first NIU Super-Sectional, while Rockford Auburn will meet Stevenson at 8 p.m. in the second NIU Super-Sectional.
Best backcourt in the state?
Billed by many as the state’s best backcourt, Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw strengthened their case Friday.
In the Class 4A Lake Zurich Sectional championship, Brunson scored 27 points and Cashaw added 20 as Stevenson downed previously unbeaten Chicago Fremd 63-48.
The 47 combined points by the duo accounted for 75 percent of Stevenson’s points.
“Jalen trusts me and I trust him all the way, and our chemistry goes a long way,” Cashaw told the Chicago Tribune. “We played tonight as a team with the same mentality we always do — just keep on fighting through until we get the win.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.