CRETE | With leading scorer Donte Thomas out indefinitely with a torn meniscus, Times No. 2 Thornwood coach Paul Slavich was looking for someone to take charge.
Rashaad Alexander answered the call Tuesday as he drilled a key 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:26 left to spark a 5-0 Thunderbird run in a 78-73 win over Crete-Monee.
At the time, Thornwood trailed 71-70 after letting a double-digit, first-quarter lead slip away.
"Rashaad is a ballplayer," Slavich said. "He's the guy you go to to get a shot, make a basket. He is also a guy who will make the pass when you need it if he is not open."
Thomas, a Bradley recruit, will have surgery Friday morning, according to Slavich.
Alexander said he was open and knew the Thunderbirds (11-4) needed to make a move if they were to win.
"Coach (Slavich) called the 'iso' play for me to take the shot," Alexander said. "It was a good shot. It felt good when it went in the net."
The Thunderbirds hit 12 of 20 3-point attempts, including seven in the first quarter. Thornwood was 30-of-52 shooting on the night.
Crete-Monee (11-5) made five 3s.
"That's a 21-point difference right there with the 3s," Warriors coach Tom Cappel said. "If anyone can shoot better than that, I'd like to see it."
Crete came out in a 1-3-1 zone, and Slavich said his team took advantage of it by drilling 3-pointers.
"I had a feeling if we saw a zone, we’d shoot the ball and shoot it well," Slavich said. "We do have some kids who can shoot the ball, and we’ve been lacking some confidence."
Cappel said he had no answer for Thornwood's eagle-eye shooting.
"When you are hitting from the corners, there is nothing you can do about it," Cappel said. "They got us down, but our kids fought back."
Thornwood used balanced scoring with six players in double figures. Kaliph Fagan had 14, followed by Brian Thomas, Chelby Frazier and Donzel Vinson with 13 points each. Alexander had 11 points.
Crete was led by Tyler Williams 24 points. Brandon Johnson had 21, and Mike Nelson added 16. Williams also had 10 rebounds.
"This game was a boost for us," Alexander said. "We played hard, and we played as a team. We spread the scoring around."