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East rebounds from deficit, advances to sectional finals
Posted By Brandon Reid On March 9, 2011 @ 9:08 am In Happening Now | No Comments
By Matt Nestor
WOODSTOCK, Ill.—The clock wound down as the East E-Rabs trailed by a point in overtime.
Alonte Holliday, who did most of his scoring in the second half and overtime, was trapped in the corner. He found one teammate, who found Deontray Austin, who got a shot off.
The shot missed, but as they had done most of the night, the E-Rabs crashed the offensive boards, Steven McNease grabbed his 16th rebound, put it back for his 11th and 12th points, and East found themselves in the IHSA Class 3A sectional finals with a 71-70 overtime win over Crystal Lake Central.
“I wasn’t going to let my team lose,” McNease said. “I told them we came a long way just to be put out. We’ve been through this stuff before in the regular season, and we know how to keep our composure.”
The basket capped a tremendous comeback effort by East, who outscored the Tigers 40-31 in the second half, after trailing by 9 at the half and by as much as 14 in the second quarter thanks to a game-high 24 points from Jake Chrystal.
“We went in to half and we didn’t panic, because we knew it couldn’t go any worse for us than it did,” East Head Coach Roy Sackmaster said of his team’s slow start. “I was happy with the way our kids responded. We took it up a notch, and I don’t think they were quite ready for it.”
The E-Rabs were bolstered by their stifling defense and their strength on the boards. Twenty-two turnovers and 22 offensive rebounds were the story of the game for East.
“We’re faster than them,” Austin, who scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, said of his team’s defense and rebounding. “We were clearly faster, and we executed more, and that was the outcome of the game.”
Central Head Coach Rich Czeslawksi said the offensive rebounds not only did his team in on the final basket, but the entire game. He said they scouted and practiced for that, but in the end could not stop it.
“They threw it up and went and got it and we couldn’t do anything about it,” he said. “Every time they came down and missed a shot, they got the rebound. You can explain it any way you want, missed shots, turnovers, but the fact is we couldn’t keep them off the glass.”
Holliday led East with 19 points, most of which were in the second half. McNease scored all of his 12 points in the second half, while Austin, who scored most of his points in the first half while the team struggled, put in the game-tying shot that sent the game to overtime.
“When Deontray comes to play, he is at a very high level,” Sackmaster said. “Without him playing, we’re not there.”
For East, the win puts them in the sectional final, where they will face the winner of Woodstock Marian and Aurora Central Catholic. That is a far cry from where this program was even a year ago.
“I couldn’t be happier for these guys, and we’re still playing,” Sackmaster said. “It says a lot for our program from where we were and where we’ve come from. It shows that we’re still going up. The sky is the limit.”
But the E-Rabs aren’t ready to reminisce about what has been a great season thus far. They have their eyes on more hardware.
“We have to keep our heads in it,” McNease said immediately after the win. “This game is the past, we have to worry about the future.”
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