Just about everyone in the gym thought Metea Valley’s Upstate Eight Valley game against West Chicago was over when the Mustangs’ Marquell Oliver followed his own miss and scored for a 70-68 lead just before the buzzer sounded.
But West Chicago had one more chance after the officials ordered 2.1 seconds back on the clock. Ryan Orr inbounded to John Konchar and Metea Valley’s Bryson Oliver fouled Konchar as he heaved a desperation shot from just behind half court.
Konchar made the first free throw, missed the second and then misfired again, allowing Metea Valley, which led by as many as 17 points, to survive, 70-69, in Aurora.
West Chicago made only 12-of-24 free throws.
“[Konchar] is great player and had another great game, but you can never think you’re out of the fight,” Metea Valley’s Mark Konkle said.
The Wildcats tied the game for the first and only time of the evening when Konchar (29 points, 15 rebounds) scored on a drive with 1:52 remaining.
After both teams exchanged turnovers and each team missed a shot on their ensuing possessions, Marquell Oliver (13 points) put the Mustangs ahead 70-68.
“I was thinking that either we win it now or go into overtime,” he said. “I got the luck of the bounce, stayed with it and put it back up and in.”
Metea Valley (14-8, 6-4) jumped to a 42-26 lead at halftime but missed some chances that could’ve really opened the game up.
“I saw missed opportunities and knew they’d make adjustments,” Mustangs coach Bob Vozza said. “I took a timeout early in the third quarter to tell them he’s (Konchar) coming, and he took over and we had some bad turnovers.”
West Chicago outscored Metea Valley, 29-14, in the quarter to pull within 56-55 heading into the fourth.
“We became accountable on defense,” West Chicago coach Bill Recchi said. “We wanted to get it to eight at the end of three (quarters) and we got it to one. Give credit to the kids for the character they showed out there.”
Nick Dodson led the Mustangs with 17 points, Konkle added 15 points and 9 rebounds and Justin Kuehn had 11 points.
Mike Bibbs scored 14 points and Mitch Henke had 11 for the Wildcats.