3-point shooting woes befall Wheaton Academy boys basketball in loss

GENOA – The shooting woes that Wheaton Academy boys basketball team showed against Burlington Central returned at the worst possible moment on Friday.

After knocking down eight 3-pointers through the first three quarters of play, Wheaton Academy could only get one to fall in the fourth quarter as Sycamore did just enough down the stretch to pull out a 59-56 win over Wheaton Academy in the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Regional final.

“We hadn’t shot it well,” Wheaton Academy coach Pete Froedden said. “We shoot 24 percent against Burlington and win and I don’t know if that’s ever happened in basketball.” 

Both teams traded baskets throughout most of the first half with neither squad taking a lead larger than five in the first 16 minutes.

Sycamore’s Cooper Vinz knocked down three first-quarter 3-pointers to give the Spartans (22-8) a one-point lead after one period of play. 

Wheaton Academy’s Chris Johnson came off the bench to knock down two second-quarter 3s of his own, but Devin Mottet’s spinning three-point play in the final minute put Sycamore up two at the half. 

The back-and-forth tempo left the teams tied at 45 after Josh Ruggles knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner at the third-quarter buzzer.

After a steal and layup from Johnson cut Sycamore’s lead to one, Nick Feuerbach knocked down a 3-pointer off a feed from Vinz and then Mottet converted a pair of free throws after he was fouled on a drive to the bucket after a steal of his own to push the lead up to six. 

“We had some untimely turnovers, missing 50-50 balls that you’d like to come up with,” Froedden said. “It wasn’t from a lack of heart or energy or anything like that. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. There wasn’t a possession we took off.”

Wheaton Academy (20-9) never led in the fourth quarter as Sycamore converted all 16 of its free-throw attempts in the contest to keep the Warriors with an arm’s distance.

Ruggles and Gordon Behr each had 16 points to lead Wheaton Academy. 

Mottet led the Spartans with 16 points and five rebounds while Vinz ended with 11 and Feuerbach chipped in nine.