DIXON – With Dixon up by two, Sterling inbounded the ball from the sideline on Dixon's half of the court with 1.9 seconds left during Friday's game at Lancaster Gym.
Guard Zach Rehmert made the inbounds pass, immediately got the ball back, and went up for a potential game-winning 3-pointer from well beyond the line.
Dixon's 6-foot-6 Isaiah Roby was lurking nearby, and went up with the 6-2 Rehmert. The shot left Rehmert's right hand, but didn't get far before Roby got a piece of it, knocking it offline as time expired in the Dukes' 47-45 Northern Illinois Big 12 West win.
"That's been a trademark of these guys this year, is when there's been adversity they've found just enough to fight through it," Dixon coach Jason Mead said. "The effort was absolutely phenomenal on both sides. We were very fortunate that we made one more play."
Roby's fourth block of the night was his most important one.
"I was guarding [Joe] Brouilette, and he's a great screener," said Roby, who scored a team-high 13 points, and was one of four Dukes in double figures. "I figured he would screen for the shooter, so I thought I might be able to make a play. When [Rehmert] went up for the shot, I thought I could get there."
Sterling (2-2, 1-1) was looking good when it went up 45-39 on a driving bucket by freshman point guard Juan Gomez, who scored eight points, with 3:45 remaining.
But those were the last points the Golden Warriors would score.
"The ball just didn't roll well for us," said Sterling sophomore Sterling Thornton, who scored a game-high 17 points. "We came out a little weak, but we battled back. Sometimes, it's just not enough."
Dixon (7-0, 2-0), which led nearly all of the first 2½ quarters and led by 10 in the second quarter, finished the game with an 8-0 burst.
First, Roby drained a 3-pointer with 3:30 to play. Matt Coffey put in a bucket on a nice driving scoop to bring the Dukes within 45-44 with 2:09 remainining.
Kyle LeBlanc, who scored 10 points, gave Dixon the lead with two free throws at the 1:28 mark.
Sterling worked the clock, but wound up turning the ball over when the Dukes' Laron Carr, who also scored 10 points, appeared to tip a pass near midcourt before diving for the loose ball as Dixon called timeout with 33 seconds left.
Carr hit one of two free throws with 30 seconds on the clock. After Rehmert missed a 3, Carr missed two free throws with 8.3 ticks remaining.
With fouls to give, the Dukes committed three of them in the final seconds before the blocked shot at the buzzer.
"Last year, if we were down six like that, we would drop our heads," LeBlanc said. "This time, we understood what we needed to do."
Cal Jarrett also scored 10 points for Dixon. Rafael Sosa contributed eight points for Sterling.
"Credit to Dixon. They made the plays at the end of the game that they needed to make," Warriors coach Jim Preston said. "We were jokingly talking in the locker room that we went on our run a little bit too early."
Star of the game: Isaiah Roby, Dixon, 13 points, 4 blocks, including final play
Key performers: Sterling Thornton, Sterling, 17 points; Kyle LeBlanc, Dixon, 10 points; Juan Gomez, Sterling, 8 points
Up next: Dixon vs. Fulton at West Carroll tournament, 4:30 p.m. Saturday; Freeport at Sterling, 7 p.m. Tuesday