CLINTON, Iowa — Reece Sommers had his flu game.
The North Scott junior didn't go off for 38 points like Michael Jordan back in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, but with Sommers suffering with a fever of 101 degrees during the day Tuesday, comparisons were made.
"We showed him the picture this afternoon of Jordan and (Scottie) Pippen, sent him a text saying, 'You're all right dude, you'll be fine,'" Lancers head coach Shamus Budde said.
Sommers was indeed fine and also hit the biggest shot of the year, nailing a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to give North Scott a 53-52 win over Dubuque Senior at Yourd Gym and send the Lancers to the Class 4A state tournament.
"People were joking around with me all school day with (the flu game)," said Sommers, who finished with nine points and five rebounds. "With these teammates, I've got to go fight for them. They mean the world to me. They kept picking me up and I had to play for them.
"I didn't really think about it, I caught it, shot it and when it went in, the crowd erupted. It was pretty cool."
The clock initially read 2.7 seconds after Sommers' shot but the officials changed that to 4.5. Senior's Carter Stevens drove the length of the court and his off-balance 3-point attempt hit off the front of the rim and out, sending the Lancers back to the state tournament for the first time since 2015, when they won the whole thing.
"We knew what it took to get here again," said senior Corvon Seales, a freshman on that state title-winning team. "We fought and we battled until the buzzer."
Sommers' heroics capped a nine-point fourth-quarter comeback and wouldn't have been possible without sophomore Ty Anderson's job on the glass. Matched up against Senior's Division I prospect Noah Carter, Anderson grabbed two big offensive rebounds on North Scott's final possession, kicking the ball out to Sommers at the top of the arc for the winning shot.
"Outworking them. I did it in practice, I've been working on that, hustling to every rebound and it paid off," said Anderson, who finished with seven rebounds. "We had worked too hard for this, we had to do it, we had to work harder than them."
Thanks to six first-half 3s, the Lancers held a 24-23 lead after the first two quarters.
But during a back-and-forth third quarter, emotions put the Lancers in a big hole.
With under 30 seconds left in the frame, North Scott trailed 35-32 and the Rams looked content to hold the ball for the final shot.
However, the North Scott bench was hit with a technical with 17.5 seconds left. After two free throws from Carter Stevens and a putback at the buzzer by Carter, the Rams had stretched the lead to 39-32 after three quarters and upped it to 41-32 with 7:45 left in the game.
Carter finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds but didn't take a shot after a dunk with 3:07 remaining that had the Rams up 48-41.
"I thought we were getting bumped a lot and getting fouled a ton and for them to only have three or four fouls through three quarters, I was just trying to stick up for my guys," Budde said. "For a couple minutes there, I thought I just lost this game for them. It wasn't very smart of me to do that but they got through it."
While North Scott was just 1 of 3 from the free throw line — all coming in the fourth quarter — Senior was 13 of 15, the Rams' last coming with 1:33 left to go up 52-47 after Corvon Seales fouled out.
"Coach was saying all year, even in the first couple of games that if I get in foul trouble, just have faith in my guys that they would be able to pick up the slack," said Seales, who finished with a team-high 15 points.
The Lancers did indeed pick up the slack.
Cortaviaus Seales hit a free throw to cut the lead to 52-48. On the next Rams' possession, Carson Rollinger poked the ball loose and Sam Kilburg buried the layup to bring the Lancers to within two, 52-50 with 51.6 seconds left.
The Lancers forced a jump ball on Senior's next possession, grabbing possession with 41.2 seconds left, setting up the final heroics.
"It just says a lot about our guys. A lot of people think it's just Corvon but Corvon will be the first to admit that he knows he's got guys that can play," Budde said. "They really stuck together and you couldn't be any prouder of this group of kids."