CRYSTAL LAKE - All season, Johnsburg boys basketball coach Mike Toussaint has hoped his relatively young team would learn at least one lesson from every game.
On Tuesday, the Skyhawks showed they have. Turning to a patience it didn’t have during an overtime loss to Hampshire four days earlier, Johnsburg took its time in the final few seconds against Crystal Lake Central and rallied for a 59-58 victory in Fox Valley Conference Fox Division play.
The win was just that. It was the pride that really counted.
“I really was proud of them,” Toussaint said. “Hampshire made a run at us and we freaked out, started doing things we don’t do. … Tonight, we executed and we didn’t panic. It might show that we’re growing up.”
The Skyhawks (7-19 overall, 4-8 FVC Fox) trailed 56-55 with less than a minute left and spread the ball to kill 30 seconds and get guard Collin Ridout open outside.
Ridout knocked down a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to put Johnsburg ahead, 58-56. A Central turnover and a foul put Johnsburg senior guard Steve Dixon at the line to shoot two, and he split the pair to make it 59-56 with 14 seconds remaining.
Central guard Cavanagh Murphy tried a 3 to tie the game but missed. Guard Jason Price scored a putback at the buzzer for the final one-point margin.
“We’re learning every game,” Ridout said. “We have a lot of young guys playing big minutes, so every game is a learning experience for them.”
Central (3-22, 2-8) is in a similar position. Unfortunately for the Tigers, what they’ve learned and what they still need to learn didn’t offset.
The Tigers led by 10, 45-35, with 2:35 left in the third quarter thanks to a 16-4 run that included threes from Murphy and guards Kenny Vesely and Kevin Peisker. Johnsburg cut it to four, 45-41, on a layup from guard Luke Lobermeier, but Price hit a buzzer-beating three from midcourt to put the Tigers up 48-41 at the end of the third.
Central led 52-41 on a Price jumper with 4:10 left in the fourth, but Johnsburg rattled off an 8-2 run to pull ahead by one, 55-54, with 2:27 left to play.
“We played a great third quarter but in the fourth quarter we looked like a team that doesn’t know how to play with a lead, because we don’t know how,” Central coach Rich Czeslawski said. “You can fix those things by talking to one another and hustling. We had no intensity or desire to talk, and that’s disappointing at this point in the season.”