LANSING | Illiana Christian just could not close the door on Ridgewood Friday night.
Even with the Rebels leading scorer Anthony Mroz out with a knee injury, the Vikings just cold not put away Ridgewood. The result was Illiana having the door slammed on it as it fell 63-59 in a Metro Suburban Conference game.
"A lot of 'What ifs' for us," Illiana coach Tom Roozeboom said. "If we hit some of those easy shots, if we get that rebound at the end off two missed free throws and if they don't hit their 3s, but that is the way it goes."
Ridgewood's Igor Cirkovic hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1 minute 16 seconds left to give Ridgewood a 59-57 lead, one it would not relinquish.
"To tell you the truth, I was looking to drive to the basket and maybe draw a foul," Cirkovic said. "I was wide open, so I shot and I was just lucky."
The Rebels (8-4, 4-0) took a 61-59 lead on a pair of Justin Santiago free throws, but the Vikings (9-6, 3-2) cut it to 61-59 on an Elijah Lares basket with 10.8 seconds left. Lares then fouled Cirkovic, who finished with a game-high 27 points, but he missed both free throws. Ridgewood's Mike Morowiec fought for and got the rebound and was fouled. He made both of his free throws to put the game away.
"That was big because if we get the ball, we're down two and have a chance to tie or win," Roozeboom said. "It didn't and we just didn't finish tonight."
The Vikings led by as many as seven points in the third quarter as Caleb Jonkman had six points and entered the final quarter with a 44-38 lead. They were outscored 25-15 in the fourth quarter.
"That was real tough because we had them, but we couldn't put them away," Illiana's Brandon Martin said. "They made some big 3s and that one at the end really hurt."
Martin finished with 22 points, while Lares had 16 and Jonkman added 13.