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FREEPORT, Ill. — With both St. Francis and Rockford Lutheran in the super bonus with five minutes still remaining in the Class 3A Freeport Sectional championship, the contest became a matter of who could drive, draw fouls and sink free throws better.
St. Francis had just the guy to do it in Tim Zettinger. The senior guard’s 10-of-12 fourth-quarter foul shooting led the Spartans to their second sectional title win with a 63-60 victory. “That’s my game is driving the lane and trying to get fouls or kick it out to [Andrew] Kimball,” Zettinger said. “He’s such a good shooter. Our team worked really together tonight and we were getting to the line and knocking them down.”
Zettinger finished with 22 points and Kimball hit six three-pointers en route to a 21-point game as St. Francis (21-8) advanced to play Bartonville-Limestone in Tuesday’s DeKalb Supersectional.
“We consider ourselves a veteran team,” Zettinger said. “We were in the sectional finals last year and our starting five were all seniors on that team. So we all know what it’s like playing in big games.
“We told ourselves at the end to calm down and be ready for them to make a run because they’re such a great team.”
Rockford Lutheran rallied from an eight-point third-quarter deficit to tie at 55 with 2:20 left in the game, but Zettinger drove, drew a foul and broke the tie with two free throws. After a free throw by Thomas Kopelman, who led Lutheran with 20 points, Zettinger again drove the lane but this time hit a layup for a 59-56 lead with 1:29 remaining.
Lutheran’s James Robinson had the chance to tie it at 59 with two free throws but missed both — Lutheran missed four of its final five free throws — and Zettinger made two with 18 seconds left to ice the win.
“He is able to do a couple things for us,” St. Francis coach Bob Ward said of Zettinger. “He can attack the basket and he can score or he can find Kimball. When he passed it, Kimball’s big threes kind of stemmed the tide.”
Rockford Lutheran (25-5) missed nine of its 14 fourth-quarter free throws.
“We missed our share of free throws, but in the course of a three-point game there’s a lot of different things you can look at,” Lutheran coach Tom Guse said. “I’m proud of our guys — they had a phenomenal year.
“The comeback we made was all about our kids.”