HANOVER – Tim Wilson’s elbow swung around, connected, and sent an Aquin player sliding to the ground.
There were 2 minutes, 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Class 1A River Ridge Sectional championship game between Newman and Aquin.
The foul was Wilson’s fifth. Game over for the senior forward that had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Moments later, Jeremy Wilson, Tim’s cousin, was called for a technical foul.
Aquin’s Aiden Chang made both free throws to put Aquin up 45-40 with 2 minutes left.
Game over for Comets, right?
Wrong! The calendar did flip over to March, after all.
“You look up at the clock with 2 minutes left and our best player is on the bench and it doesn’t seem possible,” Newman coach Ray Sharp said. “But these kids never stopped believing. They never stopped trying.”
It wasn’t over. Neither was Tim Wilson’s job.
At 6-foot, 4 inches, Wilson became the team’s tallest cheerleader.
“This win had nothing to do with me,” Wilson said. “It was all about guys like Mike Lee and Kyle Moore. Once I was on the bench, I got a better view of the game and could see what was happening. All I could do was cheer and tell them what I was seeing.”
Lee became the general with Wilson on the bench.
He scored five points in the fourth quarter, including the three-point play with 20.7 seconds left that tied the score at 48 and forced an overtime.
He made two 3-pointers and three free throws in the extra period as the Comets rallied for a 61-57 overtime win.
“Once Tim went to the bench, I knew I had to pick up the scoring,” Lee said. “We had been going to him all night, and they couldn’t really stop him. With him out, I had to be aggressive.”
Lee adds his name to a list of heroes in the Sauk Valley basketball scene that has grown almost every day this week.
Again, welcome to March.
It started Wednesday night, when Patrick Petrosky hit two free throws late for Sterling in its narrow win over Rock Falls.
Up to that moment, Rock Falls’ Tyree White was doing a pretty good job of being Mr. Clutch for the Rockets.
Petrosky hit more big free throws in a win over Alleman on Friday night in the 3A Dixon Regional title game.
Jose Knox and Chris Fritsch had their fair share of heroics in the upset of the Pioneers, also.
Lee capped it off right. He scored 15 of his game-high 22 points after the third quarter.
Not only did he force overtime, but his 3-pointer with 1 minute left in the extra frame tied the score at 57-57.
It was appropriate that he also came to the line with 4.6 seconds left with a chance to extend Newman’s lead to four points.
“I see that as an opportunity,” Lee said. “There’s a lot of pressure, but if you look at it like an opportunity to help the team seal the win, you focus more on that than on the pressure.”
As for that last opportunity, well, he cashed in on both.
Of course, he did.
March doesn’t get any better.