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St. Charles East's Cole Gentry celebrates after draining the game-winning shot at the buzzer to take down Evanston 60-57. | John Konstantaras/Sun-Times Media
Tied at 57 with five seconds remaining, St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods drew up a play in his huddle. The ball would come into guard Cole Gentry at the top of the key. Gentry’s first option was to pass to sharpshooter Dom Adduci, who was coming off a pair of screens. If Addici was covered, a backdoor pass from Gentry to a cutting AJ Washington would be the second choice. If neither of those worked, Woods told Gentry to just put up a shot.
Gentry went with option number three. Woods is happy he did.
The sophomore guard took the inbounds, found nothing open, crossed over to his right and swished a 25-footer as time expired, giving St. Charles East a 60-57 nonconference victory over visiting Evanston on Saturday night. The three capped off a phenomenal performance for Gentry, who finished with 30 points, including all 15 of his team’s points in the fourth quarter.
“We had three options,” Woods said after the game, followed by a sigh of relief. “Thank God one of them worked.”
“I got the ball and was just thinking, ‘There’s not going to be enough time for either of the passes,” said Gentry. “So I stepped back, took the shot, and it just went in.”
Gentry was on fire all night. He sank all six of his three-point attempts and all six of his free throws; he also added five assists and played pressure defense on the other end. Following the win, the sophomore said that a strong belief in his own abilities helped him when it mattered most.
“It was a tough shot, but I have confidence in those situations,” Gentry said. “Confidence makes up for a lot, because if you know you can make that shot, you aren’t nervous and you just let it go.”
St. Charles East (10-4) was playing its first game without star guard Kendall Stephens. The Purdue commit confirmed to the Sun-Times before the game that he will miss the remainder of his senior season due to a shoulder injury.
Evanston (7-9) had terrific balance with five players scoring eight or more points, led by Will Jones’s 13 points off the bench.