JOLIET | No lead is safe when Times No. 1 Bloom Township holds it.
That belief was reinforced Monday, when Sandburg stormed back from a nine-point deficit with less than two minutes remaining to beat the Blazing Trojans 47-43 in overtime at Monday's MLK Day of Hoops at Joliet Central. In an early game, No. 2 Crete-Monee topped Mount Carmel 52-46.
Sandburg trailed 36-27 with 1:43 left in regulation before a 12-3 outburst, capped by Nick Lehnerer's game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1.4 seconds to play. A driving basket by Ken Payonk 1:03 into the extra session gave the Eagles the lead they never relinquished. Sandburg came back despite not being in the bonus until leading in overtime.
The lead was built as much on Bloom miscues, beginning with a quartet of fourth-quarter turnovers, as Sandburg smarts. Bloom (16-3) was 0-for-6 from the floor in overtime.
"I'm not going to take the blame for this," Bloom coach Jasper Williams said. "We run good and look pretty, but we didn't execute down the stretch. We had too many missed shots, too many mistakes."
The collapse was reminiscent of the loss to Rich South, in which Bloom faded down the stretch.
"It happened in the Rich South game, and now it's happened in this game," Williams said. "Today, we had three opportunities to hold the ball down the stretch, and we made turnovers. Even on an inbound pass, Johnny Griffin turns it over. If the play doesn't work, call time!
"It was mental mistakes. We tell them that the good teams don't give games away."
Lejavius Johnson led Bloom with 16 points and six rebounds, but was blanked in overtime. Griffin scored 10 points, six on third-quarter baskets during which he controlled the game. Lehnerer led Sandburg (8-7) with 14 points.
Hard work, more than anything else, helped Crete-Monee carry the day over Mount Carmel.
The Warriors' victory was more difficult to achieve than might have been expected, but a big fourth quarter in which they outscored the Caravan 16-7 made the difference at the MLK Day of Hoops at Joliet Central.
"We worked harder," coach Tom Cappel said of his team's final eight minutes. "I don't know if it's desperation, but I'll take it."
Aggressive man-to-man defense, which forced four Mount Carmel turnovers in the final quarter, started the comeback for the Warriors (12-4). A three-pointer by senior sub Marius Hopkins carried it along. Two-way play by guard Marvie Keith and forward LaQuon Treadwell kept the Warriors ahead, despite a gallant effort by the still-learning Caravan.
Hopkins' three-point basket cut Mount Carmel's lead to a point with 5:25 to play. Two free-throws by Keith and one by Hopkins gave Crete-Monee a 44-42 lead. After a pair of Alex Austin free-throws tied the game, Crete-Monee ran off seven points, including baskets by Keith (13 points) and Treadwell (10 points), to take control.
"This is a 'learn by going' situation, and we are learning," Cappel said. "Marius, he's improved so much. That's a commodity not many people know about, because he didn't play much last year. And defensively, we play man-to-man, and they want to play it."
Illinois-bound Michael Orris added 10 points and defensive stability, but was held scoreless in the final quarter.
Austin led Mount Carmel (5-12) with 20 points and nine rebounds.
"We're heavily dependent on Alex," Caravan coach Mike Flaherty said. "But we've got a lot of new guys. The whole game, I'm yelling at 'em. We've got to get stronger, more physical. They kind of wore us out."