||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Rich Central coach Robert Smith keeps encouraging his team to play until the end of the game.
The host Olympians did just that Friday night in a Southland Conference game against Crete-Monee.
Hanging around until the end paid off in a big upset when Chad White scored from underneath the basket with 33 seconds left for a 60-59 Rich Central victory.
“I’m proud the guys didn’t give up,” Smith said, referring to his team falling behind by six points midway through the fourth quarter. “That’s a mantra I’ve been trying to preach here and encourage them to fight all the way through for the whole game.”
The Olympians (6-9, 1-1) learned good things can happen when they do that. They also put themselves in the thick of the conference race.
Rich Central rallied when McKinley Marseille converted a layup, then added two free throws with 1:38 left to bring his team to within 59-58. Marseille then penetrated on the Olympians’ last possession and fed White for what turned into the winning basket.
“Marseille has worked his way into the point guard position,” Smith said. “The last play was a breakdown. He was supposed to go a different way but it was covered. He came out of nowhere with a play and big assist.”
The Warriors (12-3, 1-2) played for the last shot but Brandon Johnson missed two free-throw attempts with seven-tenths of a second. Johnson had been fouled after corralling an offensive rebound.
“It looked like we had them a couple of times and we let them back in the game,” Crete-Monee coach Tom Cappel said.
The Warriors were without starters Marvie Keith, who was injured during the McDipper Tournament, and Laquon Treadwell, who’s competing in an all-star football game. Mark Conner had 23 points for the visitors.
Jamaal Murray was a picture of consistency for Rich Central with his 18 points and 10 rebounds evenly divided between halves.