NORMAL — Even in a nightmare, it was 5 minutes, 30 seconds the Ridgeview High School basketball team could hardly have imagined.
After scoring the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a two-point lead, Ridgeview became mired in a debilitating scoring drought.
The dry spell swung open the doors of the Illinois State Class 1A Super-Sectional for Annawan, and the Braves burst through to capture a 39-32 victory Tuesday at Redbird Arena.
“It was a struggle. It’s hard to make shots if you don’t get shots,” said Mustangs coach Rodney Kellar, whose team committed turnovers on three straight fourth-quarter possessions. “I thought we did our best to try to give us a chance. But when you don’t get shots it’s hard to keep up with them.”
The Ridgeview season ended in the super-sectional round for the second straight year as the No. 7-ranked Mustangs bowed out at 28-5.
“We just didn’t make shots when we needed to,” Ridgeview senior Jacob Donaldson said. “Our defense slipped a little bit. They made a run and we didn’t.”
No. 4 Annawan will face No. 6 Sterling Newman in a State Tournament semifinal at 11:15 a.m. Friday at Peoria’s Carver Arena.
“They were bound and determined. They are the most determined group I’ve ever had the honor of coaching,” said Braves coach Alex Coppejans. “These guys just have it in them.
"When you need to grind it out – and by golly that was not our best performance by any means – they just did what they had to do to win.”
Annawan erased a 20-17 halftime deficit with the first six points of the third quarter and led 27-23 before Donaldson’s reverse layup with four seconds showing sliced the Mustangs’ deficit to 27-25.
A jumper from the wing and fast-break bucket from Justin Myers pushed Ridgeview into a 29-27 lead at the 6:12 mark of the final quarter.
But a Brendon Shaw driving bucket forged a tie for Annawan that was broken by a Dante Weatherby free throw. A Jacob Wolf 3-pointer from the top of the key handed the Braves a 33-29 edge and led to a Ridgeview timeout with 2:06 to play.
Ridgeview watched an Alex Tongate 3-point try rattle out before three consecutive turnovers rendered the Mustangs’ task a problematic one.
“The third quarter they made a good run at us. I was really proud of the kids when we got back to even and actually had a two-point lead,” Kellar said. “We’ve been very good at getting turnovers and turning them into points, but we just didn’t get many.
"The turnovers down the stretch, we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit. Our execution was not as good as it was in the first half.”
Two Donaldson free throws with 35 seconds left put Ridgeview back on the scoreboard. After a steal, Donaldson added one more from the foul line to pull within five but the Mustangs advanced no closer.
Donaldson topped all scorers with 13 points and Myers contributed eight points, four assists and three steals for Ridgeview.
The Mustangs shot 38 percent from the field, and Matt Nunamaker’s third-quarter 3-pointer was the only success from beyond the arc in 11 attempts.
“We knew they could knock down some open threes, but we were more concerned with guarding the paint,” said Coppejans. “We did a nice job of closing out and rotating. I thought our team defense was really spectacular.”
Annawan shot 37 percent but outrebounded Ridgeview, 29-18, behind 11 boards from Ben Buresh. Owen Landwehr led the Braves with 10 points and Buresh chipped in eight.
“It was two good defensive teams. They made things hard for us, and we made things hard for them,” Kellar said. “They made a few more plays in the end.”