RIVERSIDE – Throughout Friday’s game, Aurora Christian senior point guard Drew Meyers kept on hitting big shot after big shot.
So, after a tense Metro Suburban Blue game at first-place Riverside-Brookfield went down to the final seconds, it was fitting that the ball wound wind up in Meyers’ hot hand in the final seconds.
And it wasn’t a surprise that Meyers made the game winner, swishing an acrobatic 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining to lift Aurora Christian to an improbable 74-70 win over Riverside-Brookfield.
Meyers scored a game-high 27 points, with his 3-pointer in front of the Eagles’ bench the exclamation point on a thrilling comeback victory. With the Bulldogs under the foul limit, Meyers was fouled just seconds before his eventual winner. When the Eagles inbounded the ball, Meyers anticipated another foul, rising up and hanging for a brief second longer, burying a 3-pointer and adding a free throw to complete the four-point play.
“I had the ball and had the guy behind me and just made the shot,” Meyers said. “I thought the defender was coming, so I just shot it. If I missed it, I knew I would get three free throws. That was the best shot of my career, especially against a Top 20 team.
“I didn’t think I was going to miss that shot. I wanted to call game, and that’s what happened.”
The Eagles (14-4, 5-2) knocked off the highly ranked Bulldogs (14-3, 6-1) on their home floor by burying 13 3-pointers, including four by Meyers. Senior guard Danny New hit three 3s for 17 points and McCade Weber added three 3s for 9 points. Calvin Washington III drained two 3s for six points, while Trey Beebe rounded out the Eagles’ barrage of 3-pointers with one trey for three points.
“We just started hitting some shots, but (R-B) hit so many shots early in the game,” Aurora Christian coach Dan Beebe said. “They’re a great shooting team. We started chipping away, not giving them so many open looks. That was a great high school basketball game.
“Drew played smart basketball. He took that last shot, knowing they would try and foul him. He’s a smart kid who has worked his tail off to get to this point. It was a great team win.”
Meyers’ shot shocked the large crowd, especially since the Eagles looked listless in the first half. The Bulldogs were on the verge of a blowout victory, building a 16-point lead late in the second quarter following a 3-pointer by JP Hanley (19 points).
“There was something different about the energy of this game, and we had a great week of practice and just knew we could pull it off,” Meyers said. “I thought we came ready to play.”
The Bulldogs came out scorching the nets, hitting 3-pointers, scoring in transition and Joevonn McCottry (21 points) had two dunks within a few minutes of each other in the second quarter.
Nothing seemed to be going the Eagles way, and everything was pointed toward a blowout loss, which made the defeat even more unsettling for the Bulldogs.
“I knew from the jump it was going to be a tough match,” McCottry said. “I just tried to stay focused throughout the game. We have to play a full game and we will figure it out. We knew Meyers could shoot. We had to do a better job not giving him space.”
The Bulldogs hurt themselves with three straight turnovers to open the fourth quarter, finishing with six turnovers in the quarter to allow the Eagles to build a 68-62 lead with 2:19 left. McCottry nearly salvaged the victory, connecting on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 68-all with 59 ticks left. After New scored a basket, McCottry tied the game again with a hard-nosed basket with 16 seconds remaining to set up Meyers’ late-game heroics.
“The first half was great because we were getting stops and great transition baskets,” Riverside-Brookfield coach Mike Reingruber said. “When you stop getting stops, those transition baskets go away, but they made some tough shots. We have to lock-in better, but credit to them. We knew (Meyers) was a very good shooter and he plays with confidence. He made a great shot.”