HILLSIDE – St. Charles East guard Dom Adduci and his teammates often attempt half-court shots while playing H-O-R-S-E, with the winner earning a free lunch.
Adduci didn’t earn a free lunch Friday, but his buzzer-beating, just-inside-half-court bank shot off a steal propelled the Saints to a 64-61 victory against Glenbard East in consolation bracket play at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
The Saints earned the win without Purdue-bound senior guard Kendall Stephens, who was out after aggravating a shoulder injury in Thursday’s second-round loss to Stevenson.
With the game tied at 61 and 1.6 seconds to play, the Rams (8-4) inbounded the ball from underneath their own basket. Adduci stole the inbound pass, took a dribble and drilled the game-winner.
“I was just kind of a showman out there, making sure they don’t run it in,” Adduci said. “I was supposed to not really do anything. But then the guy passed it, and I was like ‘That looks short.’ It ended up going right to me. I grabbed it and looked at the clock. I knew it was one dribble and throw it.
“I took the shot. I saw it was going right, I thought to myself there was no way that was going in. But then the bank. I was shocked when it went in. It was the best feeling ever, especially for the win.”
The Saints (9-3) move on in the consolation draw against St. Joseph at 3:15 p.m. today.
“We told whoever gets [the ball] to launch, and that’s what he did, he launched it,” Saints coach Pat Woods said. “It is better to be lucky than good. A little luck never hurt anyone.”
Glenbard East might beg to differ.
“We told our guys [after the game] it wasn’t won or lost in the last 1.6 seconds,” said Rams coach Scott Miller. “We felt defensively, we had some lapses.”
The teams were tied, 31-all, at halftime.
Down 44-41 late in the third quarter, the Saints went on a 13-0 run to end the quarter and begin the fourth.
During the run, Cole Gentry hit a 3-pointer, A.J. Washington had a tip-in, Jake Asquini and Joren Wilson hit back-to-back 3s and Adduci hit two from the line to give East a 54-44 lead.
But the Rams came right back and ripped off 11 straight to go ahead 55-54. Later in the quarter, Asquini hit another 3 for a 59-58 lead, and after Glenbard East answered with a 3 of its own, Washington scored on a put-back to tie the score at 61 with 1:16 to play.
“That’s a good team we beat without Kendall, so it’s a big win for us,” Woods said. “I was pleased with our effort, to be in a position to win the game without Kendall.”
Speaking before the game, the Purdue-bound Stephens said his status remains up in the air.
“It was sore this morning, so we’ll just have to wait and see,” Stephens said. “I am day-to-day. I don’t think I’ll be out for the season.”
Adduci led the Saints with 24 points to go along with five assists and three steals. Asquini was 4 of 5 from 3-point range for 12 points and Washington had 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Glenbard East’s Marvin Grant-Clark led all scorers with 25 points to go along with eight rebounds, and Jaron Hall added 23.
“We talked before the game about people stepping up, and I thought we had a lot of people step up, especially in the scoring role,” Woods said. “Cole, A.J., Asquini. I have to yell at [Asquini] to shoot sometimes. I think he got the message today.
“And Dom played well. We only had eight turnovers. [Thursday] we had 18. That’s the difference in the game right there.”
The teams were tied eight times and exchanged leads on 14 occasions.