No matter the sport, when the game is big enough and the ending memorable enough, it deserves its own name. Think The Shot, or The Drive or The Catch.
Batavia had its Super Bowl Tuesday in its bid to climb into the thick of the Western Sun Conference race, and while the stage certainly was large enough and the final minutes thrilling enough, the name this game gets isn't going to make any Bulldog fan happy.
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The one that got away.
The Bulldogs did so many things right over the first 30 minutes to put conference-leader DeKalb on the ropes, then watched everything go wrong in the final seconds. DeKalb junior Jake Jouris tied the game with 2 seconds to play, then the Barbs spent overtime at the free-throw line to top Batavia, 68-65.
Instead of creating a three-team logjam atop the standings, the loss leaves the Bulldogs (13-5, 6-3) two games behind the Barbs (16-6, 7-1). Geneva (13-6, 7-2) is in the best position to catch DeKalb when the Vikings play at DeKalb next Friday.
"It's awful," Batavia senior Ricky Clopton said. "We played so good for so long and just had that little lapse towards at the end of the game when we didn't execute."
While the game was tight throughout, Batavia led for most of it. Elliot Vaughn's 8 points and 6 rebounds in the first quarter put the Bulldogs ahead 14-8 and Jesse Coffey's 9 first-half points helped Batavia lead 29-25 at halftime.
DeKalb took its only lead of the second half at 38-35 midway through the third quarter. Just when the Barbs looked like they were taking control, Batavia guard Adam LeTourneau's steal and 3-point play tied the game.
When LeTourneau connected on a corner 3-pointer off Coffey's pass on Batavia's next possession, the Bulldogs had a 41-38 lead they would hold until those final 2 seconds.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect is that until those final seconds, Batavia was about to beat the WSC leaders despite a career night by Barbs star Jordan Threloff, their Illinois-State bound center who finished with 24 points and a career-best 26 rebounds.
"I think we played really well with a lot of energy and that's how we need to play to win," Coffey said. "I thought we did a good job of that. We just need to close it out in the last minute."
DeKalb started the game in a 1-3-1 zone, but Coffey's 3-point shooting helped Barbs coach David Rohlman decide to go man. Batavia put the ball in Ricky Clopton's hands most of the time after that, and Clopton usually was able to get his own shot or find an open teammate.
Clopton's assists to Vaughn inside and then Coffey from the top of the key put the Bulldogs ahead 48-41 with 6:51 remaining. DeKalb cut the lead to one only to watch Batavia extend its advantage back to 53-47 when Vaughn and Coffey hit four straight free throws.
Unfortunately for Batavia, that was the last thing that went right at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs went just 2 of 10 over the final two minutes of regulation and four minutes of overtime, while DeKalb converted 15 of 19 during the same span.
Threloff's 3-point play drew DeKalb within 53-50 with 1:59 left. Threloff's short jumper made it 53-52.
After Batavia missed 2 free throws, Levi Maxey and Vaughn denied Threloff's bid for the go-head basket with 14 seconds to go. Maxey grabbed the rebound, was fouled and split his free throws for a 2-point lead with 10 seconds to play.
DeKalb got the ball to Jouris, a 6-foot-4 forward, who drove down the lane and converted a layup under pressure to tie game. Batavia's desperation 60-footer was well off the mark.
"That's a great play by Jake," Rohlman said. "We've been asking him to be that aggressive all year long."
Jouris' game-tying drive - nearly identical to how the Barbs tied the sophomore game that also went to overtime - also ended up being DeKalb's last field goal attempt. The Barbs outscored Batavia 14-11 in overtime without attempting a single field goal, getting all their points on 14-of-18 free-throw shooting.
Threloff grabbed a miss on Batavia's first possession in overtime and was fouled. He made both free throws for a 56-54 lead, and after Batavia missed again the Barbs took a minute off the clock before getting fouled.
DeKalb built its lead to as much as 63-56. Coffey and Clopton both connected on 3-pointers that brought Batavia within 66-64 with 8 seconds left.
After the Barbs split free throws, the Bulldogs had a chance to tie. But DeKalb fouled Sam Shump before the Bulldogs could get a 3-pointer off with 1.4 left.
Shump made the first and intentionally missed the second but Batavia was called for a lane violation. DeKalb again split free throws for a 68-65 lead with .9 left, and the Bulldogs' three-quarters court heave at the buzzer wasn't close.
Batavia's starters played most of regulation. Coffey scored a team-high 17 points including five 3-pointers, Vaughn scored 16 to go with 14 rebounds, Clopton also scored 16 and LeTourneau added 13 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.
"We didn't have very much gas in tank," Clopton said. "A lot of guys played their hearts out. It was a long game, it felt like forever. They had all the momentum (after regulation)."
The Bulldogs finished 14 of 27 at the free-throw line to DeKalb's 24-34.
"Obviously in a game of this magnitude that is a difficult thing to overcome," Batavia coach Jim Roberts said. "I was very proud. You lay your hearts on the line and you come up a little short. You come out on the road against a team that's leading the conference and put yourself in a pretty unique position. Yeah, it hurts. We have to step back and get after it again."
Batavia now has 10 days off before playing Glenbard South next Friday. DeKalb plays Sycamore Friday.
"This was a big, big game for us," Rohlman said. "Geneva and Batavia have to play each other again. We didn't want a second loss. I thought it was a great basketball game. I think that's what high school basketball is all about."