UNION TWP. | Late in Tuesday's non-conference battle between Wheeler and Kankakee Valley, time inadvertently ticked off the clock during free throws and other stoppages in play.
This wasn't the type of game to use a running clock. The Kougars and Bearcats were involved in a tight boys basketball contest throughout.
The situation was serious enough that Wheeler athletic director Randy Stelter had to bring in a backup timing device before play resumed with 4:29 remaining. The new clock worked just fine.
Wheeler senior guard Jeremy Truchan hit two key baskets in the final minute, including the game-winner with 18 seconds remaining to give the Bearcats a 41-39 victory.
Truchan finished with a game-high 18 points for the Bearcats (11-7). He had a runner in the lane that bounced on the rim four times before dropping with 54 seconds remaining to give Wheeler a 39-36 cushion.
But Dustin Ketelaar responded for the Kougars, nailing a 3-pointer from the left wing with 36 seconds remaining to tie it up.
Wheeler came right back, and Truchan swished a 15-footer from the right side of the lane. K.V. called two timeouts in the final seconds, but never got a shot off.
Jason Graff added 10 points and four rebounds for the Bearcats.
Ketelaar led the Kougars (10-9) with 13 points and Matt Myers added nine points and six rebounds.
Wheeler got off to a quick start, taking a 7-1 lead after a 3-pointer by Kevin Barnes midway through the first quarter. But the Kougars rallied, going on a 9-0 run to end the period with a 10-7 advantage punctuated by a Justin Eger a 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer.
K.V. built a 23-16 lead late in the second quarter by dominating the boards. Alex Forrestall came off the bench and had a putback right away at the 2:33 mark, Alonte Blackwell followed with another putback and Myers hit a pair of free throws after grabbing a rebound on a Blackwell missed free throw.
Blackwell scored on another putback with 1:16 remaining for the seven-point lead, the Kougars' biggest of the half. Wheeler closed the gap to 23-20 at the break as Truchan hit a pair of buckets and Trent Foster scored with four seconds remaining off a feed from Austin Greiner.
The Bearcats got back in it right after the break, building a 30-25 lead courtesy of a 3-pointer by Drew Heinold at the 2:16 mark of the third quarter.