With boys regionals underway, there’s only a couple weeks of hoops remaining.
Before we move on to area diamonds, tracks, soccer fields and tennis courts, I’m going to take a look back at the best I experienced during the basketball season.
But hopefully there will be some even better games and moments during the remainder of the postseason.
I was fortunate to see many exciting games this season, but the one that stands out the most was the Putnam County boys basketball team’s 74-71 triple overtime victory over Woodland in the Tri-County Conference Tournament semifinals Jan. 23.
The Panthers appeared doomed to fall into the third-place game as they trailed for all but 1:32 of regulation and faced a five-point deficit with 29.9 seconds left.
Enter Xavier Warren.
The senior drained two 3-pointers in the final 29.9 seconds to force overtime.
Then in each of the first two overtimes, both teams had chances to win, but each time one team appeared poised to put it away, the other team responded.
Finally, in the third extra session, PC senior Cody Veronda sank a 3-pointer with 1:20 left and the Panthers survived.
Honorable mention: PC’s 64-63 in the TCC Tournament final Jan. 25 and the Mendota girls basketball team’s rally from 16 points down at halftime to beat St. Bede 52-53 on Dec. 11.
The Putnam County at Peoria Christian girls basketball game getting moved from Peoria Christian High School to Peoria Christian Grade School during the second quarter due to a leaky roof at PCHS on Jan. 10.
A referee spotted water on the floor and realized the roof was leaking. After a few minutes, it was determined there was no quick fix, so Peoria Christian officials announced the game was being moved to the grade school a few blocks away.
Putnam County jumped on its bus and Peoria Christian players road with their parents before having to run through puddles and a steady rain into the grade school gym.
After a warmup, the game resumed after a 32-minute delay.
I’ve seen basketball games postponed by snow and outdoor contests stopped for rain or lightning, but a rain delay at a basketball game was a first.
Honorable mention: The fire alarm and gym evacuation Friday during the Ottawa at La Salle-Peru boys basketball game. Another career first for me.
Most clutch play
The La Salle-Peru boys basketball team faced a tough situation Jan. 11 when the Cavaliers were forced to play without starters Jens Soderholm and Cam Hight.
The Cavs struggled in the first half offensively as they shot 28.2 percent and held a 18-17 halftime lead.
L-P scored 24 points in the third quarter, but Sterling kept it close and tied the game with 1:40 left.
Out of a timeout with 29.4 seconds left, the Cavs ran down the clock before junior Noah Lamboley hit a pull-up jumper with 6.6 seconds left on a play that didn’t go quite as planned to lift the Cavs to a 48-46 victory.
Honorable Mention: St. Bede senior Damin Smith grabbing an offensive rebound and hitting two free throws with 1.4 seconds left to lift the Bruins to an 84-83 victory over previously unbeaten Kewanee Wethersfield on Dec. 18. L-P sophomore Erik Milaicki hitting game-winning shots in back-to-back sophomore games against Geneseo and St. Bede.
Most Tweeted Moment
It was easily the most retweeted and favorited tweet I’ve ever sent: “SBA superintendent Ted Struck was ejected after argument with L-P player #embarrassing #NTPreps.”
That was retweeted and favorited more than 50 times, and the incident was the talk of the area for a few days.
Once again, the La Salle-Peru vs. St. Bede crowd did not disappoint.
The gym at the Academy was packed to capacity during the sophomore game, and both student sections were loud and creative.
Add to it the ceremony honoring Lanny Slevin, the St. Bede band, a dance by the SBA cheerleaders to songs from different eras and oh yeah, a pretty entertaining basketball game, and it added up to a fun atmosphere for those lucky enough to get into the gym.
Honorable mention: Ottawa at La Salle-Peru.
Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Editor. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.