ST. CHARLES – Proviso East senior forward Devin Welch didn't expect to take the final shot attempt Friday, but it worked out well anyway.
Welch found his way into the corner, and sunk a game-winning three-point shot with 1.3 seconds left to lift Proviso East to an 82-79 victory over St. Charles East at the 61st annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament at St. Charles East.
"I knew that we had to get the victory," said Welch, who had 15 points and four rebounds. "I was going to do anything I got to do for my team to win."
In a wild fourth quarter, St. Charles East tied the game at 79-79 on Chase Monkemeyer's layup with 28 seconds left. Pirates guard Latrell Boyle missed a layup, but Michael Osborne grabbed the layup to ensure the Pirates possession coming out a timeout.
"[The last shot] actually was for [Osborne]," Welch said. "It came to me; I guess I made the shot."
Proviso East (3-0) advances to Saturday's 7 p.m. championship against Willowbrook, who defeated St. Joesph 56-51. Everett Stubblefield had 31 points.
St. Charles East (2-1) will face East Aurora in the third place game at 5:30 p.m.
The Saints were hurt by 23 turnovers. Proviso East had 16.
"We had too many turnovers," East coach Pat Woods said. "We know we're going to get a lot of turnovers playing at that [high] speed...I think we played hard. We've just got to be tougher."
The Saints took a 59-53 lead into the fourth quarter. The Pirates surged ahead 63-62 on the back of Osborne, who scored 11 of his 20 points in the final quarter. The Pirates took a 69-66 lead with 3:30 left in the game before Saints guard Zack Clodi hit a layup. Aidan Sullivan then hit a pair of free throws to take the 70-69 Saints lead with 3:16 left.
Pirates guard Terrance Thomas hit a pair of free throws to re-take the lead before Tommy Craven's jumper took the lead right back. Craven missed two free throws and the Osborne hit a layup for the 73-72 Pirates lead.
Luke Matheny hit a three-pointer and then hit a layup before Osborne responded with another layup down by two at 77-75. Welch hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 1:13 left.
Thomas hit a layup before Monkemeyer's tying score, setting the stage for the thrilling finish.
"Free throws: [we shot] 58% from the free throw line," Woods said. "You can't be in a game against a good team and shoot 58% and expect to win. Especially when you go to the line, what, 39 times."
The Pirates were paced by Osborne's 20 points and three rebounds. Boyle had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
For St. Charles East, Monkemeyer's 17 points and 5 rebounds led the team. Aidan Sullivan had 10 points and 7 rebounds. Matheny and Thomas Ditsworth each had 11 points.
In the first half, St. Charles East took a 29-19 lead with 4:25 left in the second quarter, but the Pirates stormed back in strong fashion. Osborne hit 1-of-2 free throws followed by consecutive layups from Thomas and Javon Johnson to pull within 29-24.
Saints forward Sean Sullivan missed four free throws, but Clodi made a pair. Following a Pirates turnover, Scott Breidigan hit a three-pointer in transition to re-take the 10 point lead at 34-24.
The Pirates again came back on six made free throws and a turnaround jumper from Osborne to tie it at 34. Sullivan hit a jumper, followed by two free throws from Osborne before Matheny hit a jumper to take the 38-36 advantage into the half.