LOCKPORT | When T.F. North's Greg McClain stole the ball and scored an open layup for the Meteors with 3:30 left in the third quarter, no one in the gym knew that would be the Meteors only bucket for the next nine minutes.
Still, T.F. North had plenty of chances to pull this one out, but the Meteors fell 40-37 to Joliet West in the 4A Lockport Regional championship.
McClain and the Meteors offense struggled throughout the fourth quarter, scoring just four points.
"We just turned the ball over," T.F. North coach Tim Bankston said. "We had 10 turnovers in that half. The kids fought hard. We got a little stagnant with our offense. That's what happens in the playoffs, sometimes the pressure has kids forgetting."
With the game tied 37-37 with 24 seconds left on the clock, Joliet West's Morris Dunnigan found Brandon McCullum open under the basket for an open layup and the two-point lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Meteors were unable to get a shot and turned the ball back over to Joliet West.
"Down the stretch we drew up a defense that worked to perfection," Bankston said. "Dunnigan made three or four shots in a row, so we wanted to get the ball out of his hands. We wanted somebody else to beat us, and we had the person we wanted to shoot the ball, we just didn't have the defender on him."
Nick Wood finished with six points and 10 rebounds for T.F. North. Danya Coleman added five points and 10 rebounds for the Meteors, and teammate Quawone Harris led T.F. North off the bench with six points.
"My hat's off to Joliet," Bankston said. "They fought great. We went 20-8 and these guys only won 11 games last year. We beat some pretty good teams this year, and we played some pretty good competition. I would have liked them to have more success, but I'm proud of my kids. They fought hard."