JOHNSBURG – Johnsburg’s Kevin Dombrowski did not allow his shooting slump to adversely affect his play against Crystal Lake South.
At the most crucial juncture, with 1:36 remaining and his team trailing by four points, Dombrowski did not shy away from firing an open 3-pointer.
Bolstered by the confidence of nailing the first one, Dombrowski hit another with 21 seconds remaining, then tacked on a late free throw as the Skyhawks held off South, 45-42, in their Fox Valley Conference crossover boys basketball game Wednesday night.
“It was flowing through the offense and it came to me,” Dombrowski said of his first 3. “I had the opening and I took it. The second one, I knew time was running out so I just let it go. It’s good having Mike Conroy setting the screens for you.”
Both shots came from the left wing after Dombrowski used picks from Conroy (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) to help find room. On the second one, he came around the screen, took a step back and buried the shot.
Johnsburg (4-2) still had to stop the Gators (2-3) when guard Alex Bartusch drove inside along the left baseline. Bartusch got close, but missed a contested shot and the Skyhawks rebounded. Dombrowski made 1 of 2 free throws and South’s Nick Geske’s 3 in the final seconds was short.
“I wouldn’t change anything,” Gators coach Matt LePage said. “Dombrowski made two tough 3s, and I thought we had a hand in his face. We had [Eric] Schiller at the line, he’s our best free-throw shooter, and we were up by one.”
That was with 58 seconds to go, but Schiller missed. South made only 3 of 14 free throws for the game.
Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint said Dombrowski plays the same game every night despite his shooting struggles early this season.
“He’s a senior and has the experience,” Toussaint said. “He’s still confident in himself, and he’s knows what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot.”
Marcus Huemann added 11 points, and Ben Dingman had 10 points and three blocked shots for the Skyhawks, who were playing without 6-3 T.J. Sigmund, one of their two leading scorers. Toussaint could not comment on the reason Sigmund was absent, but said it was indefinite that the senior forward would be back with the team.
LePage said he thought Johnsburg, which outrebounded South, 38-32, outworked his team at times.
“That’s awesome [to hear],” Huemann said. “Our mentality is that we know we’re talented, but we want to go out and work hard night in and night out. We played really good defense collectively as a team.”
Max Meitzler led South with 13 points and eight rebounds. His 15-footer from the right baseline with 1:55 remaining gave the Gators a 42-38 lead before Dombrowski’s heroics. South found open shots against Johnsburg’s 2-3 zone, but the Gators hit 29.8 (17 of 57) from the field.
“We got the looks we wanted, it’s a matter of cashing in,” LePage said. “I thought we got a little 3-happy and settled for those too much.”