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Indian Creek's Jaron Todd goes up for a rebound during their Little Ten Conference game against Newark at Somonauk High School on Thursday, January 31, 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
It’s been awhile.
“About five years, I think,” said an elated Joe Piekarz, who then heaved a big sigh of relief.
The Indian Creek coach couldn’t recall the last time his team had beaten Newark. He had just seen his Timberwolves blow an eight-point third-quarter lead, turn the ball over on its first three possessions of overtime but come back to win 58-57 Thursday in their semifinal of the 94th Annual Little Ten Conference Tournament.
The difference was a free throw by 6-foot-9 junior center Garrison Govig with 9.6 seconds remaining.
No wonder Piekarz was saying, “Whew!”
The Norsemen have dominated the Timberwolves in recent years and looked like they’d pull out another nail-biter after freshman Jack Clausel rebounded a miss by Brett Anderson and scored on a putback to beat the regulation buzzer and tie the game 51-all.
Govig’s free throw gave him 27 points on the night, but he missed his second attempt, which was rebounded by Anderson who brought the ball up court. The Norsemen struggled to get a shot off and coach Rick Tollefson called timeout from the bench with 1.7 seconds left.
With Govig harassing 6-foot Kenny Hume as he tried to inbound the ball, IC blanketed Anderson, who had a game-high 35 points. Hume found Joe Hughes for an open look just outside the 3-point line near the top of the key but he stumbled and barely beat the buzzer as he threw up a prayer that didn’t hit the rim.
“Obviously, our goal was to make somebody other than Anderson take that shot,” said Piekarz, whose 13-8 team meets top seed Hinckley-Big Rock (20-3) in tonight’s title game (8 p.m.).
The Royals bolted to a 16-2 lead in the opening semifinal against Paw Paw, then held on to claim a 58-47 decision after the Bulldogs cut the deficit to four late in the game.
“I thought the momentum was on our side,” said Newark coach Rick Tollefson, whose team falls to 13-9. “Late in the overtime we had a three-point lead and two guys with position on one of their missed shots but (IC’s 6-6 junior Garrett Post) grabbed the rebound, gets fouled and makes both free throws and they’re right back in it.”
Indian Creek (13-8) had led 20-18 after a lethargic first half but built the margin to 31-25 entering the fourth period by feeding it inside to Govig, who scored on seven of eight possessions in one stretch.
“He can put the ball in the basket,” said Piekarz. “I have to give credit to our guards for finding him. He’s also hit some big free throws late in games for us too. I was happy with the way we maintained our composure.”
Senior guard Jaron Todd added 20 points for the Timberwolves.
H-BR 58, Paw Paw 47 – “That first quarter is the best we’ve ever played,” said H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes, whose team jumped to a 16-2 lead to open the game and led 36-24 at the half but had four starters with two fouls each at the break.
“In the second quarter we tried to take that good play and make it even better and started making mistakes. I think we had six turnovers in the second quarter.”
Paw Paw, which got 19 points from Justin Wiley and 10 from Zach Lilja, got within four, but H-BR’s Mitch Ruh hit a clutch 3-pointer with 6:01 remaining and the Royals held the Bulldogs at bay.
Andrew Klambauer led H-BR with 14 points, Michael Bayler added 12 and Ruh had 11.
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