GENEVA – Dave Brackmann had the perfect view.
Wheaton North's coach was directly in line with the ball as Geneva’s Dylan Fuzak released a 3-pointer that would have sunken the Falcons and completely erased a once double-digit lead.
Fortunately, for Brackmann and Wheaton North, the ball rimmed out and they prevailed with a 63-61 road victory in DuKane Conference action.
“I was actually shocked when it didn’t go in,” Brackmann said of Fuzak’s attempt. “We had the perfect line of vision from our spot on the bench and it was 1,000-percent on line the entire time. I’m just so proud for our guys and the way they fought tonight. It wasn't perfect. We made a lot of mistakes, missed some free throws, turned the ball over... but we did a lot of good things tonight and we made sure to stress that to the guys after this one."
Wheaton North (15-12, 5-7 DuKane Conference) got out to its big lead thanks in large part to seniors Zack Lorentsen and Casey Gray. The duo combined for 21 points on a perfect 8-for-8 from the field in the first half –including 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
Lorentsen’s final 3-pointer of the night gave the Falcons their biggest lead of the night at 16, 43-27, midway through the third quarter.
“It’s hard to win on the road (in the DuKane Conference),” said Lorentsen, who scored 13 of his game-high 16 points in the first half. “We had a big lead, but we knew [Geneva] had a run in them. We just kept our wits about us and found a way to hang on tonight. A win is a win at this point in the season.”
Though Lorentsen and Gray made seven of the Falcons’ 12 3-pointers in the game, none came at a bigger time than two players who made their only 3-pointers of the game.
After Geneva’s Chris Suger made back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Wheaton North’s lead to 55-54 with 3:11 to play, Emmanuel Wilson and Sam Cascella followed with their own consecutive 3s to stretch the lead back to seven.
No one was more relieved that Fuzak’s shot misfired than Wheaton North's Ben Bonga, who missed the second straight front end of a 1-and-1 for Wheaton North that allowed Geneva (14-12, 4-8) its look at the buzzer. The teams shot a combined 21-for-42 (50-percent) from 3-point range in the game.
“I think we gained more confidence from those huge 3s,” said Bonga, who chipped in 14 points for the Falcons Tuesday. “It was getting really tight and I think they both shot those with confidence and they proved to be so big for us, especially with the way the game ended.”
For Geneva, coach Scott Hennig couldn’t have asked for much more to the ending of a game where he saw his team trail on its home court by 16 at one point.
Hennig saw the clock run out on what he’s sure could have been a comeback victory had the Vikings had a few more minutes on the clock.
Geneva was led by Nathan Valentine (15 points), who scored five straight points in the final minute, and Drew Johnson (14), who was 6-for-7 from the field.
“I think time just ran out on us,” Hennig said. “I think we got locked in a little too late and started making shots late. We got back into it, but I just wish we had a little more time. Give credit to both sides for a great game. I thought we made some mistakes, but it’s two teams in the middle of the pack, fighting for (sectional) seeding.”