Boys basketball: La Salle-Peru comes up big in final minute to edge Dixon in Class 3A regional semi

Cavaliers to face host Sterling in title game Friday

LaSalle-Peru’s Brendan Bourdeau fouls Dixon’s Bryce Feit Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 at the Sterling class 3A basketball regional.

STERLING – Holding a two-point lead coming out of a timeout with 28 seconds left Wednesday, La Salle-Peru inbounded the ball to senior guard Seth Adams.

Adams dribbled near midcourt as a pair of Dixon defenders rushed him.

Adams fired a pass to a wide-open Brendan Boudreau under the basket, and the senior forward put it in and was fouled, causing the Cavalier faithful to erupt in cheers.

“I got the ball, then I saw two people coming as I was dribbling toward the middle of the floor,” Adams said. “I saw him wide open in the middle and I just threw it right to him.

“That was big. That was a big energy boost. We all got really excited after that.”

Boudrea sank the free throw with 17.9 seconds left to give the Cavs a five-point lead – their largest of the night – and No. 5-seeded L-P held off the No. 2 Dukes for a 56-52 victory in a Class 3A Sterling Regional semifinal.

“It’s very exciting to get that type of win,” Adams said. “We didn’t have our best shooting night, but we were still able to battle through and get past a tough Dixon team.”

The Cavaliers (23-8) advance to face the host Golden Warriors (24-8), the No. 2 seed, in the title game at 7 p.m. Friday. It will be L-P’s first regional final appearance since winning the Dixon Regional in 2015-16.

LaSalle-Peru’s Nicholas Olivero handles the ball against Dixon Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 at the Sterling class 3A basketball regional.

“They’re a tough team,” L-P coach John Senica said. “I know it’s going to be very difficult, especially playing here in their atmosphere. I think we’re both capable of winning the game, but they’re going to be tough to beat.”

L-P beat Sterling 77-61 on Feb. 10 at L-P.

“We’re confident, but we still understand that they’re not somebody to look over,” Adams said. “It’s going to be a tough game for both teams. Both of us have to battle.”

Wednesday’s game was a battle as neither team ever led by more than five points.

The Dukes led 32-27 with 6:06 left in the third quarter, but L-P rallied to take a 37-36 lead on a bucket by Nickolas Olivero with 1:12 left in the quarter.

Dixon got a free throw by Eli Davidson to tie it before rebounding an L-P miss on the other end.

The Dukes called a timeout with 8.6 seconds left, and out of the break Austin Hicks drained a 3-pointer with four-tenths of a second left to give Dixon a 40-37 lead going to the final quarter.

“Any time you’re able to get a little bit of a lead, especially in a nip-and-tuck game this time of the year, it gives you just a little bit of confidence,” Dixon coach Chris Harmann said. “We had an empty possession at the start of the fourth, which they ended up scoring on. So there’s a couple little things here and there that cost us in the end.

“[Down the stretch], I thought we didn’t get as clean of looks as we needed to and they got some key rebounds. We lost them on the boards a couple times and they were able to get some easy buckets. Against a team like that, you can’t do that.”

The Cavs opened the fourth quarter on a 12-6 run to take a 49-46 lead with 2:10 left, but Hicks popped out to the top of the key and knocked down a 3 to tie it at 49 with 1:53 left.

L-P responded with a jumper by Jack Jereb for a 51-49 lead and the Cavs led the rest of the way.

Dixon’s Austin Hicks drives to the hoop while being guarded by LaSalle-Peru’s Brady Romagnoli Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 at the Sterling class 3A basketball regional.

After Boudreau’s three-point play, the Dukes rushed down the floor and junior Darius Harrington buried a 3 to pull the Dukes within 54-52.

Adams was fouled with 7.9 seconds left and knocked down both free throws then stole the ball on Dixon’s final possession to seal the win.

Adams and Boudreau each had 13 points for L-P, while Josh Senica finished with 10 points.

“Brendan Boudreau rebounded, he defended, he made some big buckets,” John Senica said. “He was a go-to-work guy today doing all the dirty work. Boudreau had one of his best games.

“Seth had a great game as well. Both of those guys really stepped up.”

Hicks scored a game-high 24 points for Dixon (24-6), while Harrington contributed 15 points.

“This was a special year,” Harmann said. “They’re a special bunch. They played their tails off all year long. They just competed night in and night out. I just hate that it ends like this.”