GENOA – Devin Mottet grabbed a rebound with 39 seconds remaining and let out a scream.
The Sycamore senior forward has always looked for the ball, yearned for it, and called for it. It was that way as a football quarterback, and it’s been no different as a two-time basketball captain.
With Sycamore nursing a four-point lead, Mottet knocked down both ensuing free throws in a single-bonus situation, and a late fourth-quarter run gave Sycamore an advantage down the stretch that helped the Spartans clinch a 59-56 win over Wheaton Academy in the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Regional final.
“He’s so unselfish. He just wants to win. He’s a competitor,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said of Mottet, who had five assists in the first half. “Our whole team is very unselfish. He let the game come to him and made huge plays for us when we really needed him to.”
The win gave Sycamore back-to-back regional championships after the Spartans snapped a nine-year title drought last season. Sycamore (22-8) will face Marian Central (18-15) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a Hampshire Sectional semifinal.
Both teams traded baskets throughout most of the first half with neither squad taking a lead larger than five in the first 16 minutes.
Sycamore’s Cooper Vinz knocked down three first-quarter 3-pointers to give the Spartans a one-point lead after one quarter.
Wheaton Academy’s (20-9) Chris Johnson came off the bench to convert two second-quarter 3s of his own, but Mottet’s spinning three-point play in the final minute put Sycamore up two at the half.
After a steal and layup from Johnson cut Sycamore’s lead to one to start the fourth quarter, Nick Feuerbach knocked down a 3-pointer off a feed from Vinz and then Mottet converted a pair of free throws after he was fouled on a drive to the bucket after a steal of his own, pushing the lead to six.
Mottet led the Spartans with 16 points and five rebounds while Vinz ended with 11 and Feuerbach chipped in nine. For the night, Sycamore was 16 for 16 from the line.
“When you start five seniors, that’s as much experience as you can get,” Mottet said. “Everybody got significant playing time last year. It helps a ton down the stretch. We know what to do, we can take care of the ball.”
Josh Ruggles and Gordon Behr each had 16 points to lead Wheaton Academy.
Sycamore’s season ended in the sectional semifinals last year and no Sycamore team has won a postseason game past the regional round. Naturally, that fact was on the minds of many Sycamore players just moments after Friday’s win.
“That’s a huge thing, going down in the record books at Sycamore,” Ben Niemann said. “That’s one of our goals coming into this year. Hopefully, we can keep going past sectionals, too.”