MAPLE PARK – A Ty Carlson basket with less than a second left in Friday’s game saved a Kaneland boys basketball victory as the Knights edged Morris, 42-41, in Northern Illinois Big 12 East play.
Trailing by a point with 5.3 seconds to play, Cole Carlson inbounded the ball from the Morris baseline with a half-court pass to John Pruett. Pruett saw Carlson alone under the basket and fired the ball to him, and the senior put the ball in the hoop.
“It was awesome,” said Carlson, who led all scorers with 18 points. “Great awareness by John. I was suppose to be by the 3-point line to get open for a shot. I crashed and went inside and John found me.”
The play capped a frantic 71 seconds of basketball in which a Kaneland six-point lead, 40-34 transformed into a one-point deficit.
“Tough loss. That’s two years in a row we lost at the buzzer by a point to them up here,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said.
With 1:11 left in the game, Morris’ Sam Allen sank two free throws to cut Kaneland’s lead to 40-36. The senior guard then drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner with 42.7 seconds remaining to pull the Redskins within a point.
Using a trapping defense, Morris (9-3, 2-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) forced a Kaneland turnover and took the lead with 27 second left to play on a Tanner Sampson basket.
Neither team was able to cash in on trips to the freethrow line in the last 20 seconds.
After Morris missed on the front end of a one and one, Kaneland rebounded the ball and called a timeout to set up the last play.
The Knights were expecting to inbound the ball from midcourt but the referees indicated the throw-in had to be from the baseline.
“I was confused,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. “But we ran the same play that we wanted to run on the sideline. I thought Cole made a great pass. Ty made the right cut to the bucket. John made the right pass and we were lucky to win.”
“On the road to battle back from down six to take the lead, I thought our guys did a decent job,” Blumberg said. “We just didn’t have a free throw, didn’t defend the sideline and over-pursued, and gave up a layup.”
Kaneland (8-4, 2-1) led most of the night. The Knights held an 8-7 lead after the first quarter and increased their lead to eight points at the half, 19-11.
Morris rallied in the second half and narrowed the gap six points by the end of the third quarter, 31-25. The Redskins tied the contest at 31 all two minutes into the final quarter on a Austin Patterson basket. Patterson was Morris’ high scorer with 16 points, include four 3-pointers.
Kaneland responded with a 9-3 run. Ty Carlson scored seven of the points and Drew David contributed a basket. David, playing in his 85th varsity game for a new school record, scored eight points.
Pruett scored 14 points for the Knights and Jake Walker chipped in 10 for Morris.