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Joliet Central's Edward McElrath (11) runs past Lincoln-Way Central's Alex Parks (31) during Thursday nights game between Lincoln-Way Central and Joliet Central high schools. | Paul Bergstrom ~ For Sun-Times Media

Eight attempts from three-point range, and Joliet Central’s Jalen Heath had nothing to show for it.

The senior guard was cold Thursday night. Ice cold.

“Man, it was a rough night out there,” Heath said. “The coaches always tell me to keep shooting, so I kept shooting, and I knew it would fall sooner or later.”

Helping the host Steelmen come back from a 15-point first-half deficit, Heath picked the perfect time to heat up from long distance. After missing his first eight attempts, Heath hit a three-pointer that sent the game to overtime, and later hit the eventual game winner in Joliet Central’s 56-53 victory over Lincoln-Way Central in the SouthWest Suburban Blue.

Jason McNear and Michael Mercer scored 14 points apiece for Joliet Central (12-9, 7-2), with Heath (10 points) and Edward McElrath (8) also contributing. Alex Parks (15 points), Brad Bass (10) and Mikolajczak (10) led Lincoln-Way Central (8-12, 0-9).

With the Steelmen trailing by three points, Heath pulled up from the wing with eight seconds left in the fourth. His shot bounced high above the backboard before falling back down, swishing through the net to tie the game at 52.

“There were some angels in the gym,” Heath said with a smile. “It was a little shaky, but I shot with confidence.”

In overtime, Lincoln-Way Central and Joliet Central both hit a free throw apiece. With just five seconds remaining and the game knotted at 53, McElrath found Heath on the left side of the key. This time, there was no lucky bounce. The senior swished a three-pointer.

“I had a game-winner my sophomore year, but never varsity,” Heath said. “It feels good. No, it feels great.”

Lincoln-Way Central got a clean look at a three-point try with two seconds left, but Matt Mikolajczak’s attempt from the left side hit the back iron, bouncing away as time expired.

The Knights held a 22-7 lead in the second quarter.

“We were able to turn it up defensively,” Heath said. “It starts there first, and our defense gets us going.”

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