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Elgin's Arie Williams celebrates after hitting his game-winner from halfcourt as time expired against Francis Parker on Wednesday. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Elgin needed a halfcourt buzzer beater from Arie Williams and some significant help from the opposition to survive a serious scare Wednesday.
Things looked bleak for the Maroons when F.W. Parker’s Zach Kupferberg stepped to the free-throw line with two seconds left and his team leading by two. Kupferberg then gave Elgin the last in a series of breaks as he missed both attempts.
Williams rebounded the second miss and then dribbled on an unimpeded path to halfcourt, where he launched a shot that swished through the net as time expired for an improbable 55-54 Maroons win in the first round of the Elgin Tournament at Chesbrough Field House.
“I think that was the first real buzzer beater in my whole career going back to maybe Junior Maroons,” Williams said. “When I let go and it came off my finger tips I felt like either it was going in or it was going in and out. I was thinking it would either be a happy ending or a heartbreaker.”
Wiliams finished with a game-high 25 points, and his buzzer beater capped a bizarre final minute of the contest.
Elgin (7-6) trailed 53-47 with just over 30 seconds left when Williams missed an off-balance runner in traffic. The ball then rolled on the floor for several seconds before Williams grabbed it in the corner and sank a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 53-50 with 27 seconds remaining.
The Maroons immediately called timeout, and coming out of the break the Colonels inbounded the ball from under their basket to Kareem Medlock, a first-year player who was only on the court because his short-handed team was in foul trouble. In a moment of confusion, Medlock caught the pass and promptly laid the ball in Parker’s basket, giving the Maroons two points and making the score 53-52 with 22 seconds left.
Following another Maroons timeout, Parker’s Noah Wolff was fouled and split a pair of free throws to make it 54-52. Williams then badly missed a runner in traffic on Elgin’s ensuing possession, with Kupferberg grabbing the rebound with two seconds left.
Kupferberg then missed his two attempts to set up Williams’ heroics. F.W. Parker (8-3) was only 2-for-7 from the line in the final two minutes and 11-for-21 for the game.
“Say what you want about the kid throwing the ball in the wrong basket, but we still had opportunities to make free throws,” Parker coach John Bongiorno said. “They were fouling us and we had the floor spread like we wanted. We just didn’t get what we wanted at the foul line.”
Parker, a private school from Chicago that competes at the Class 2A level, scored the final six points of the first half to take a 28-24 lead at the break. The Colonels maintained their lead for almost the entire second half before Williams turned the tide as time ran out.
Henry Peters led Parker with 20 points while Langdon Neal added 16 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Tanner Bednar had nine points and Eric Sedlack contributed 12 rebounds for Elgin, which made only 8-of-17 free throws. The Maroons advance to play Dundee-Crown in the quarterfinals at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.
“We got outrebounded, we didn’t get 50-50 balls, (Parker) outhustled us and they deserved to win that game,” Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. “We played all out for two seconds and we didn’t deserve the win. I told that to their coaches and our team.”
Sitter said the Maroons will likely be without starting forward Ryan Sitter for the rest of the tournament after he rolled an ankle late in the fourth quarter Wednesday. Elgin is already without junior guard Isaiah Butler, who missed his third game in a row with a broken right hand and strained MCL.
ELGIN 55, F.W. PARKER 54
F.W. Parker (8-3)
Peters 7 4-5 20, Neal 5 6-9 16, Kupferberg 3 0-2 6, Wolff 1 1-2 4, Medlock 2 0-0 4, Jackson 1 0-2 2, McNabola 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 11-21 54.
Williams 9 4-9 25, Bednar 3 3-3 9, Dunner 3 0-0 6, Sanders 2 0-0 5, Sitter 2 0-1 5, Sedlack 1 1-4 3, Mari 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 8-17 55.
F.W. Parker 12 16 9 17 -- 54
Elgin 15 9 12 19 -- 55
Three-point goals -- FWP: 3 (Peters 2, Wolff). Elgin: 5 (Williams 3, Sitter, Sanders). Fouled out -- FWP: Neal. Elgin: Bednar, Sedlack.