Boys Basketball: Metea Valley breaks out late to down Rich Central in OT
Updated: January 16, 2012 9:49PM
Metea Valley hasn’t trailed much this season, let alone in double digits.
The Mustangs found themselves trailing 64-54 with 6:20 remaining in the fourth quarter during Monday’s MLK Day of Hoops at Joliet Central, but they rallied to force overtime and proceeded to defeat Rich Central 96-88.
“We had to come back a couple times over Christmas, but it wasn’t that big of a lead, maybe seven or eight (points),” Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza said. “That’s the character of this group and they’ve been this way since I’ve been with this team. Did we play enough to win tonight? Not for three quarters, but we got some stops and made some shots in the fourth quarter.”
Metea Valley (16-1) pulled to within 75-74 on a steal and layup from Ryan Solomon (16 points) with 55 seconds left in regulation, but after a couple free throws from Rich Central’s Munang Ekoi, they needed a putback from Milan Bojanic (nine points, five rebounds) with 28 seconds left to get back to 77-76.
Kenny Obendorf (28 points) had a chance to tie the game at 78, but split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left to once again get the Mustangs to within one at 78-77.
Finally, after Rich Central’s Lance Cole calmly sank a pair of free throws to make it 80-77, Metea Valley tied the game as Lashawn Cargo (21 points) drained a three-pointer with 12 seconds left. It was the first tie since 34-34 at the 1:32 mark of the second quarter.
“I felt like if I hit that shot we’d be able to get to OT and then we’d get the win,” Cargo said. “We didn’t really have a good game for the first three quarters but in the fourth quarter we made some plays after getting down by 10.”
Rich Central (6-10) appeared more than capable of pulling off the upset, but never led again.
“I thought we were primed for an upset, but we fell a little short against a great and well coached team,” Rich Central coach Bobby Smith said. “I told them not to give them threes, because they have guys that can hit the three and it was a three that they hit to force overtime and it kind of killed us.”
Cargo’s game-tying three-pointer apparently inspired the senior the rest of the way as he collected a huge defensive rebound, was fouled afterward, and then sank both free throws to give the Mustangs an 86-82 lead almost midway through overtime.
“I just go out and play,” Cargo said. “No matter if I made that three or someone else made it, I’m going to go there and do what I can to help my team.”
The Olympians would not go down easily though, pulling to within 86-85 with 2:16 left on a three-point play from Steven Johnson. The Olympians had five successful three-point plays and five three-pointers in the loss.
“It’s disheartening to lose, but I really thought our boys played well against a team with a good ranking and record,” Smith said. “We came to win and just fell short.”
A pair of free throws by Obendorf put the Mustangs ahead 88-85, before Solomon put a dagger in Rich Central’s hopes by sinking a three-pointer with 1:49 left in overtime to make it 91-85.
“We haven’t gone up against the 1-3-1 that big,” Vozza said. “It slowed us down, but once we got over the turnovers in the first half, we did get some good shots. They weren’t falling all the time, but obviously fell in the fourth quarter and overtime.”
Free throws were also falling as Metea Valley made 28-of-30 in the second half.
Rich Central’s Michael Kirk came off the bench and led all scorers with 32 points. He converted 17-of-18 free throws, including his final 15. The Olympians had four additional players who scored in double figures. Cole had 12, Jammaal Murray and Jalen Love each had 11 points and Ekoi added 10 points. Love led all players with eight rebounds.
Although pleased his team was able to rally to victory, Vozza was disappointed in his team’s defensive effort.
“They got to the basket whenever they wanted and we have to better than that,” he said. “They had the penetration and a lot of open shots, and got to the free throw line way too much.”
Rich Central made 30 of 40 free throws.