SYCAMORE – Jack Mizgalski’s 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in overtime against the Kaneland boys basketball team put the finishing touches on what he essentially called a revenge tour through the Class 3A Sycamore Regional.
Fifth-seeded Sycamore beat No. 8 Kaneland, 37-36, Friday night, two days after beating Genoa-Kingston in the semifinal.
“This is one of the best feelings ever,” Mizgalski said. “[Senior point guard Ty Sulaver] and I were talking about it, and we were sophomores, and the first game we lost to Genoa. Then [last] year we lost to Kaneland in the championship. Now this year we beat Genoa, and in the championship we beat Kaneland. It couldn’t be any better to make up those loses. It can’t be a better story line than that.”
The win Friday puts the Spartans (13-15) in the Genoa Sectional, in which they will face Belvidere, which was a No. 5 seed on its half of the bracket. The game tips off at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Both the Knights and Spartans spent a big chunk of the game running down the clock, including Kaneland taking 90 seconds off early in the overtime. Kaneland’s Jake Hed got the first points in the extra session, making a 3-pointer with 1:53 left. Jordan Tolzin answered with a putback 30 seconds later for Sycamore.
The Knights (10-21) almost ran off another 30 seconds before Sycamore fouled. Hed made one of his two free throws to put Kaneland ahead, 36-34, with 49.3 seconds left.
On the next possession, Sulaver drove to the basket, then kicked the ball out to Mizgalski, who was open in the corner and drained the shot with 30 seconds left.
“It was just Ty creating, and he did a great job with it,” Mizgalski said. “My guy helped off, and I was open. It was a great pass by him and I made the shot.”
Both Sycamore coach Ryan Picolotti and Kaneland coach Joe Conroy said it was a heads-up play by Sulaver.
“That was a great job by coach Picolotti to call that and the players to execute,” Conroy said. “Again, Ty, a senior, to finish going down the stretch. ... We were just trying to switch everything and not give up a wide-open look, and I think that was pretty wide open.”
Both teams had trouble getting their offense going, and it was exacerbated by Kaneland running big stretches off the clock early. The Knights led 5-3 after one quarter, but a 9-0 run in the second by the Spartans – seven points from James Marcinkowski – put the Spartans back on top.
Conroy said he thought the Knights would benefit from a shorter game – especially after Kaneland senior Dan Franck got in foul trouble.
“I know the crowd doesn’t enjoy that type of game, but we don’t play to the crowd, we play to win,” Conroy said. “We had to do whatever we could to get to the third quarter within striking distance to get Dan back in. We knew we weren’t going to win the battle of the boards without him on the floor.”
The Knights retook the lead late in the third, 22-21, on a layup by Franck. But Sycamore answered with a 3-pointer by Ethan Heinrich, who finished with a team-high eight points. He hit two 3-pointers and came close to a third, but his foot was on the line.
Sycamore kept the lead until Kaneland’s Kyle Stuart hit a 3-pointer with 2:24 left to tie the score at 32. After a timeout by the Spartans, they ran the clock down, but Sycamore’s Keyshawn Stallworth was called for a foul away from the ball with 1:06 left.
Kaneland then held the ball and tried a late 3, but Franck missed to end regulation.
After Mizgalski’s 3 in overtime, Kaneland held the ball for the last shot, but Mason Conroy missed a long 3-pointer as time expired.
“The game doesn’t come down to one play,” Conroy said. “It doesn’t come down to Dan missing a shot at the end of regulation. It doesn’t come down to Mason missing a shot at the end of overtime. It came down the rebounds we didn’t get.”
Sycamore had a 24-20 edge on the boards in the game, and 11-4 on the offensive glass. The Spartans had 10 second-chance points while the Knights didn’t have any.
The season comes to end for the Knights, who after beating IMSA in a play-in game knocked off No. 2 Aurora Central Catholic on Tuesday in a semifinal.
“Truthfully, the kids gave it all they had,” Conroy said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries, and just to watch the resilience of the kids bouncing back, then to lose by one in overtime, we can’t hang our heads on that.
“All the ups, all the downs, all the long stretches of losses, they never gave up and the never quit,” Conroy said. “And they got themselves to a championship. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
By the numbers: Kaneland’s Stuart led all scorers with 11 points, while Hed added 10. Franck scored three but had a team-leading six rebounds. For Sycamore, Mizgalski finished with seven points and six rebounds, and Sulaver had seven points and five boards. Stallworth had four points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Beyond the stats: Mizgalski finished the game shooting 2 of 7 from the floor, and didn’t hit a field goal in the first three quarters (four attempts).
They said it: “When it counted, he made that wide-open look,” Picolotti said about Mizgalski. “Obviously, they were tight on Jack most of the game, but we found him and he knocked it down. That’s what seniors, especially three-year varsity players, do.”