GARDNER | It’s one-and-done come tournament time.
Illinois Lutheran found out the hard way Tuesday night in a first-round game against St. Francis de Sales at the Class A Gardner-South Wilmington Regional.
Lutheran couldn’t hold a big first-quarter lead over de Sales and lost 59-56 in overtime.
“It was a heartbreaker,” senior guard Mack Newson said. “To lose that game, killed us. It killed me.
“I had a great time. It was a bunch of fun guys to be around, and I wouldn’t trade any of ’em for the world.”
Sam Geraci finished with 19 points for the Chargers (14-6), while Collin Borns added 16 points and six rebounds. Newson finished his stellar career with 15 points.
“In the second half of the season, Sam really brought a lot of offense to us; he showed it again (Tuesday),” coach Mark Kjenstad said. “His offense was a big reason why this game was as close as it was.”
St. Francis de Sales (7-17) opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 34-31. Newson scored four points and Borns added a bucket to get Lutheran within 42-40 after three quarters.
The lead changed hands three times in the fourth, and the game was tied at 49-49 at the end of regulation.
Tyler Streeter scored five of his game-high 31 points in the extra session to give de Sales the edge.
A desperation three-quarter court heave by Geraci at the buzzer caught only iron.
“We were playing so hard the whole game; it just didn’t turn out our way,” Geraci said. “Overtime is playoff is a big thing. Who expects to go in overtime in playoffs?
“They hit their shots.”
Lutheran jumped out to a 15-2 lead after one quarter, but St. Francis kept chipping away in the second quarter.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Kjenstad said. “You don’t win a game in the first quarter.”
Streeter scored 10 points in the second and closed the deficit within five points on three separate times, the last being 28-23.
Geraci drained a 3-pointer just before the halftime horn for a 31-23 lead.
“Their athleticism gave us problems,” Kjenstad said. “They started pressuring us, and it took us a while to figure out how to beat the pressure. … Once we let our point guards bring it up, we had more success.”
St. Francis de Sales advanced to Thursday’s semifinal against Dwight, which eliminated Grant Park 58-47.