Karl Harris was a bit envious watching his teammate Martez Cameron run the show for De La Salle for much of the game.
“Tez kept us in the game and I had to close the deal for us,” the junior forward said.
Harris scored eight of his 17 points in overtime as the unsung Meteors completed their improbable run by stunning No. 11 Mount Carmel 67-62 in winning the inaugural Catholic League tournament championship Saturday night at Chicago State.
De La Salle (13-10) previously upset ranked powers No. 8 Loyola and No. 13 Fenwick to reach the title game. De La Salle fought off an 11-point second quarter deficit and used an 18-9 closing run to force overtime.
Harris was spectacular after Cameron and junior forward Brandon Hutton fouled out late in regulation. He scored on a floater and a three-point play in transition. “With Martez and Brandon out the game, I knew I had to finish it,” he said.
In a dramatic and wild finish, senior forward Paul Zabilevicius recorded a putback off Tyler Lewis’ missed 20-footer at the buzzer that forced the extra session. “I am a senior and I told myself it was time to step up and do something for the team,” he said.
Zabilevicius also recorded a huge steal that keyed Harris’ three-point play and made an important block.
Electric junior guard Cameron scored a team-best 23 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter to earn the tournament most valuable player award. Cameron drilled three three-pointers in scoring 16 of the Meteors’ 22 first half points.
Mount Carmel guard David Nichols scored a game-high 26 points as the Caravan (20-7) held a 25-22 lead at the break. Nichols’ driving scoop he converted for a three-point play yielded the game’s final tie at 58.
Harris and Lewis (nine points) drilled crucial free throws in the final 40 seconds.
Missed free throws haunted the Caravan. Mount Carmel missed seven free throws in the final minute and a half of regulation that helped De La Salle storm back from a 41-32 fourth quarter deficit.
By contrast De La Salle converted 13-of-17 free throws in the overtime.
“It seemed like we had the game won four or five times,” Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty said.
“We missed some free throws and we left the weakside open on the tip at the buzzer. It seemed like in the overtime we didn’t do a very good job of moving our feet and we had difficulty guarding them off the dribble.”
Mount Carmel forward Montana Byrd (12 points) drilled a three-pointer from the left wing with 7.4 seconds for the Caravan’s final lead at 50-48. “We said in the huddle it was the tip and not the first shot we had to account for,” Flaherty said.
Gabe Grant added 14 points for the Caravan.
“This year’s Catholic League seniors were great and we were able to hold off some talented groups,” De La Salle coach Tom White said.