With less than a second to spare, Galesburg’s Cornell Dotson forced the Rock Island boys basketball team to stomach a painful lesson Tuesday.
The senior knocked down two free throws with eight-tenths of one second remaining to beat the Rocks 60-58 in a Western Big Six game at the Rock Island Fieldhouse, finishing off a double-digit comeback by the Silver Streaks that began nearly nine minutes earlier.
“We had to fight like crazy to give ourselves a chance at the end, but I couldn’t be prouder of our team and the way they finished it off,’’ Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds said after his team won its second conference make-up game in as many days to earn its 20th win of the season.
The Silver Streaks overcame a 45-30 deficit in the final minute of the third quarter to earn the win, using a three-pointer by Jaylin McCants with 57 seconds left in the third and a pair of three-point baskets by Dotson in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to position themselves for the comeback.
Rock Island maintained a 55-48 lead with two minutes remaining but a combination of missed opportunities at the free throw line – where the Rocks’ 7-of-12 touch in the fourth quarter included a pair of misses on the front end of one-and-one chances – and defensive struggles allowed Galesburg to whittle away at the margin.
“The free throws came with less than a second left, but the opportunities to not put ourselves in that situation came earlier,’’ Rock Island coach Thom Sigel said.
A steal, a lay-in and a free throw by Galesburg’s Tylen Parks after he was fouled on the drive with 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining inched the Silver Streaks within 55-53.
The teams traded points and Rock Island missed a pair at the line before Andrew Anderson was fouled as he drove to the basket with :46 to play. The senior scored the field goal and buried the free throw to push Galesburg in front 58-57.
Rock Island’s Jayden Tucker tied the game by hitting the second of two free throws with :21 to go, but after a timeout the Silver Streaks worked the clock and Dotson curled around the left side of the lane, drawing contact from Tucker with a fraction of a second to play.
He hit nothing but net to give Galesburg (20-8, 5-3 Western Big Six) the win and give Sigel more than a handful of teaching points for his team to deal with in upcoming days.
“Missed free throws, a couple of bad possessions, getting beat off the dribble, there were a lot of things we didn’t do well down the stretch that we have to get better at if we want to finish off games,’’ Sigel said. “For three quarters, we played good basketball, but we didn’t finish.’’
Shooting 50 percent for the opening half, the Rocks (13-11, 4-4) led 16-8 after one quarter and 26-13 late in the second before baskets by Anderson and McCants cut the Rock Island lead to 26-17 at halftime.
JaMir Price led Rock Island with 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Dotson and Anderson led the Silver Streaks with 15 and 14 points, respectively.