Boys basketball: Jack Ambrose’s big shots, Batavia’s comeback bests St. Charles North in OT

Batavia’s Jack Ambrose looks to pass the ball during a game against St. Charles North at Batavia on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.

BATAVIA – Jack Ambrose already had two game-tying 3-point shots notched on his belt.

Ambrose, the Batavia senior guard, saved his most pivotal one for the exact time Batavia needed it.

Tied at 47 with 5.8 seconds remaining in overtime, Ambrose received a chest pass from JP Chaney from the corner and swished it at the top of the key for the game-winner and the 50-47 win over St. Charles North on Wednesday.

Following a quick North Stars timeout, a 3-point attempt from Parker Reinke fell short to ensure Batavia’s second consecutive win and third in its last five games.

Ambrose hit his first 3 to close the third quarter and tie the game at 33, and another with six minutes left at 38-all to keep the Bulldogs afloat when it needed a crucial score.

“I had to stay resilient,” said Ambrose, who was scoreless at the half and finished with 11 points. “I missed a couple shots. In the beginning, I had foul trouble. I came out in the second half [and] had to hit those shots to get us the win.”

“He’ll be the first one to say it: There were some games where they just weren’t falling for him,” Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. “I thought what really helped him [was] he got to the free-throw line a little bit, and I think every shot after that was right on.”

Batavia’s Nate Nazos drives toward the basket during a game against St. Charles North at Batavia on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.

Batavia (6-10, 2-4) is no particular stranger to close games like Wednesday. St. Charles North (2-13, 0-7) held brief one- or two-possession leads in the back-and-forth affair over the course of the second half, but the Bulldogs found a way to finish.

Reinke hit a jumper to tie the game at 40 with 4:19 left in regulation, and Luke Holtz hit a 3 approximately 50 seconds later for the lead, but CJ Valente scooped a reverse layup to pull back within one. North Stars forward Jake Furtney responded with a layup, but Bulldogs junior Gavin Engelhart sank a 3 to tie the game at 45 with 1:32 left, where the score remained at the final buzzer.

In overtime, Nate Nazos fed a driving Chaney for a go-ahead layup, which was matched with a Furtney layup on an inbound pass from Reinke to make it 47-47 with two minutes remaining. Nazos was eventually fouled and missed his sole free-throw attempt with one minute left.

The ensuing possession, Furtney missed a 3, and Dan Connolly couldn’t convert the rebound and layup chance in succession. Following the miss, possession was awarded to Batavia in a scramble in the far left corner. Twenty-nine seconds later, Ambrose capped it off.

“We’ve been in so many of these games down the stretch,” Nazos said. “We got the looks, we got continuous stops. In regulation, I thought we got good looks. I don’t think we blew a defensive assignment. They had to make tough shots if they did. I think we got better tonight.”

“Say what you want about their record,” Nazos continued. “That’s a solid team, and they’re playing better than they’ve been.”

Nate Nazos finished with 11 points, while Valente had eight points and four rebounds. Jacob Aseltine had seven points, and Luke Alwin added five points for the Bulldogs.

St. Charles North showed some resiliency in the third quarter to erase what was a 10-point Batavia lead. Reinke hit a 3 with 1:15 left in the third quarter to take the initial 31-30 lead. Connolly then added two free throws to precede Ambrose’s tying trey to close the quarter.

“We had some breakdowns in our rotations. We rotated very well for the majority of the game, but in key moments, we had breakdowns,” North Stars coach Tom Poulin said. “We’re getting there. Almost. Tough game on the road, and [Batavia] is never easy here.”

St. Charles North was paced by Reinke’s 13 points, while Connolly had seven points, and Colin Ross had six points. Siegfried had two points and seven rebounds, and Furtney had four points.

“This is the fourth game where you’re not going to say, ‘We should’ve won,’ but we could’ve won,” Poulin said. “That’s a 6-9 team instead of 2-13. I just told them: We’re not an easy out. We’re getting better. ... I’m not making any excuses. Batavia didn’t quit and came back.”

St. Charles North’s Danny Connolly (left) drives toward the basket during a game at Batavia on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.