EARLVILLE – Flanagan-Cornell freshman Logan Ruddy said throughout his grade school career, and now his freshman season, he’d never made a game-winning shot.
Well, that was until Wednesday night’s boys basketball game against Earlville.
Ruddy swished a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining off a drive and kick from Seth Jones to help lift the Falcons to a 47-44 victory over the Red Raiders.
Earlville had one last chance to tie the game, but a heavily contested 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer.
“We were looking to get a layup ... there really wasn’t a set play,” Ruddy said with a smile when asked if that was how the play was drawn up. “Coach just told us to get a shot going to the basket, but then the ball got passed to me by Seth off the drive.
“To be honest, I was nervous when I saw the pass coming to me, but I knew I had to take the shot. I had a chance like that a few weeks ago and I missed it. I was just excited to see the ball go in.”
Prep boys basketball— Brian Hoxsey (@TT_BrianHoxsey) January 26, 2023
Falcons' freshman Logan Ruddy with the game-winner.@MyWebTimes @NewsTrib pic.twitter.com/8lQkmXXnsi
Flanagan-Cornell (10-12) was led by a game-high 24 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, three steals and three blocks from junior forward Kesler Collins. Sophomore guard Connor Reed finished with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists, with Ruddy chipping in five points.
“We were going to run a play we call ‘Illinois’ that we would normally look for Connor out of, but Seth did a good job of driving into the lane and then made a great decision on the kickout,” F-C coach Brian Yoder said. “Logan did a great job of being ready, having his feet set and having the confidence to take that shot. Sometimes freshmen don’t realize the importance of certain situations, but I think Logan did, and he made a great shot for us.
“I couldn’t be happier for Logan or the team on a very hard-fought road win.”
The Falcons held one-point leads (15-14, 26-25, 39-38) after each of the first three quarters.
In the first four minutes of the fourth, Ruddy made two free throws and Collins one, while Earlville’s Diego Vasquez hit a long jumper and Garett Cook scored on a drive to tie the game at 42.
With a 1:15 to go, Collins converted a drive, but Cook followed 30 seconds later with one of his own.
Out of a timeout with 17 seconds left, Jones used the dribble to get into the heart of the lane before the Red Raiders’ defense cut him off. Jones then passed to the left wing to Ruddy, who buried the 3 with Cook flying at him.
The hosts called timeout with six seconds remaining. The ball went to Ryan Browder, who was double-teamed before he found Cook on the left wing, but his shot came up short as the buzzer sounded.
Browder led Earlville (13-9) with 19 points and six rebounds, while Cook (four assists) and Adam Waite (three blocks) each chipped in nine points each.
F-C finished hitting 33% (16 of 49) from the field compared to Earlville’s 32% (18 of 56), while the Falcons won the rebound (39-36) and turnover (14-17) margins.
“We wanted Ryan to shoot it, and we were able to get into his hands, but Flanagan-Cornell did a good job of guarding him and then double-teaming him, so he had to give it up,” said Earlville coach Gerald Fruit, whose team will be without junior starter Griffin Cook for the remainder of the season because of a shoulder injury. “I thought Garett was fouled on the shot at the buzzer, but we didn’t get the call. We had many chances throughout the game to extend a lead, but we just weren’t able to.
“Their last shot, I thought we did a good job of collapsing on the drive and then challenging the shot, but their kid ended up hitting with a guy flying at him and a hand in his face.”