Boys basketball: Everett Willis’ putback propels Indian Creek past Dwight 47-45

Indian Creek's Isaac Willis (33) goes up for a shot while being defended by Dwight's Luke Gallet (21) and teammate Dwight's Conner Telford (3) during the regional quarterfinal game Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, held at Indian Creek High School.

SHABBONA – With one second left on the clock Monday and the score tied at 45, Indian Creek’s Everett Willis was at the free-throw line with two shots. The junior missed both but grabbed the rebound after the second attempt and made the putback at the buzzer to pull out a 47-45 win over Dwight in Monday’s Class 1A Somonauk Regional quarterfinal game at Indian Creek.

Indian Creek (20-11), seventh seed in Subsectional B of the Elgin Harvest Christian Sectional, advances to Wednesday’s semifinal against fourth-seeded Marquette (22-8), a winner Monday over Leland. The Timberwolves last won a regional in 2020.

Dwight ended its season with a 7-24 record.

The game-ending score was not exactly how Indian Creek coach Nolan Govig planned it.

“(Dwight) called a timeout (between free throws), and I told the team in the huddle after Everett makes his shot, we were not going to press defense, just hands-up, because we did not want to foul their shooter,” Govig said. “And that’s not exactly what I meant when I said Everett will make the shot.”

“I had to make the free throws, and I didn’t,” Willis said. “I was grateful I had the opportunity and went after the shot and put it in.”

Willis led the Timberwolves scoring with 13 points. The junior also pulled down 14 rebounds.

The buzzer-beater capped a fourth-quarter Indian Creek comeback. Dwight was ahead 35-31 at the start of the final frame. The Timberwolves trailed until a Landon Schrader (10 points) layup with one minute left play tied the game at 43 all. Senior Jakob McNally’s bucket with 36 seconds on the clock gave Indian Creek its first lead of the night, 45-43.

Dwight’s Evan Cox tied the game with 21.4 seconds to go by connecting on two free throws, setting up the dramatic finish.

A slow start put Indian Creek behind 14-6 at the end of the first quarter. The Timberwolves sank their first basket at the 2:54 mark of the frame on Tyler Bogle’s 3-pointer. Bogle finished the night with 10 points.

The teams played even in the second quarter with Dwight up 28-21 at intermission.

Indian Creek’s comeback started in the third quarter when the Timberwolves held Dwight to two baskets and seven points. Junior Luke Gallet, who led all scorers with 18 points, made both buckets.

“We were flat. We came out without intensity on both the offense and the defense. This is playoff basketball, so you’ve got threw the records out the door. Everybody is hungry, and everybody starts out fresh,” Govig said. “We just didn’t bring it at the start, but we picked it up after halftime.”

“We played well, we played hard, but we didn’t do the little things,” Dwight coach Jeremy Connor said. " We gave up too many offensive boards, and that let them stay in the game, and ultimately we lost the game.

“This has been our M.O. all year. We are a young team, and we let teams back in the game.”

Joey Starks scored 10 points for Dwight.

Indian Creek's Logan Schrader (3) takes a shot over Dwight's Joey Starks (11) during the regional quarter final game on Monday Feb. 19, 2024, held at Indian Creek High School.
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