RICHMOND – Richmond-Burton forward Jake Nelson desperately wanted a chance to atone for missing a pair of free throws in the final minute and Rockets coach Brandon Creason was happy to oblige.
With 5.4 seconds remaining and trailing by one, R-B ran an inbounds play under its basket to perfection. Nelson started to screen for Joe Miller, but slid under the basket to the right side, took the pass from Ethan Demers and made the game-winning layup.
Woodstock called timeout with 3.2 seconds to go, but Javier Garay-Vasquez’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was off and R-B had a 46-45 Kishwaukee River Conference victory Friday.
“The play previous, I knew in my head, ‘Coach better call this play,’ " Nelson said. “He called it and I was like, ‘I just missed two free throws, I have to get the ball back and make up for that.’ We ran that one off a different play.”
Creason wanted something similar to what Woodstock has seen, but with a different wrinkle. The Blue Streaks were confused and Nelson broke wide open.
R-B (8-11, 2-1 KRC) needed a little good fortune with 5.4 to go to set up that final play. Garay-Vasquez hit a 3 with 12.5 to go for a 45-44 Woodstock lead and Jason Miller was called for a charge on R-B’s ensuing possession.
Woodstock coach Al Baker wanted to see how R-B defended full-court and planned for a timeout. But the Streaks’ Hayden Haak was called for a push-off foul just as Baker was calling the timeout.
“I told Javy to take the ball and hold it, don’t inbound it,” Baker said. “Obviously, if I had it to do over, I’d just take the timeout. I thought we might be able to pick something up on how they were defending us.”
Garay-Vasquez didn’t see the foul, he was looking at Baker calling timeout.
“I thought he got it off before the foul was called,” Garay-Vasquez said. “The refs made their call and I’m not one to complain about it.”
Garay-Vasquez led all players with 14 points, with four 3s, and sparked a first-half comeback for the Streaks (7-11, 0-3), who were down 15-2 late in the first quarter.
Garay-Vasquez hit a 3 to end the first and another to start the second. Woodstock hit five 3s in the quarter and the game was tight the rest of the way.
“(R-B) was giving me the space and my teammates were moving the ball around really well,” Garay-Vasquez said. “We were able to get the good looks on open 3s. My teammates trusted me, gave me the ball and told me to keep shooting.”
With R-B leading 44-42, Garay-Vasquez hit what might have been the game-winner, a 3 from the top of the key. The Streaks called timeout to discuss their defense.
“When he hit the 3, I was like, ‘No shot he’s making that,’ " Nelson said. “And then he made it. It was a good shot by him.”
Nelson had missed a one-and-bonus free throw with 51 seconds to play, then made 1 of 2 with 26 remaining.
“We’d run the same play a number of times, it was a counter to a play we’d run, more or less,” Creason said. “We wanted to give them a look they had seen and give them a new action out of it.
We’ve talked to our guys, but we hadn’t really run it. We said we may go to it in a game. The guys executed it perfectly. Jacob Nelson missed those two free throws and we wanted to come right to him, we have confidence in Jacob. He did a good job catching and finishing.”
Connor Wallace led R-B with 11 points and three 3s. Miller had 10 points and three 3s.
Spencer Cullum scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Woodstock.
Richmond-Burton 46, Woodstock 45
Garay-Vasquez 5 0-0 14, Lyons 0 0-0 0, Sivore 0 0-0 0, Cullum 5 1-2 11, Ogle 3 2-2 9, Haak 1 0-0 3, Novelle 1 0-0 2, Murray 1 0-0 3, Barnett 1 0-0 3. Totals: 17 3-4 45.
Wallace 4 0-0 11, Ja. Miller 3 1-3 10, Joe Miller 3 0-0 6, Nelson 3 2-5 8, Cooley 1 0-0 3, Verdoni 0 0-0 0, Demers 2 1-1 5, Folbrick 0 1-2 1, O’Leary 0 2-2 2. Totals: 16 6-12 46.
Woodstock 5 18 15 7 – 45
Richmond-Burton 15 10 10 11 – 46
3-point goals: Woodstock 8 (Garay-Vasquez 4, Ogle, Haak, Murray, Barnett), Richmond-Burton 7 (Wallace 3, Ja. Miller 3, Cooley). Total fouls: Woodstock 16, Richmond-Burton 12.