Wauconda showed it was ready to do whatever was needed when Devon King dived onto the floor for a loose ball off the opening tip and it led to sophomore Ricky Sidlowski's layup.
That attitude didn't change for the Bulldogs even when Rockford Jefferson led by 15 points three minutes before halftime and by 9 points with three minutes left in regulation of Wednesday's second-round pool play game in the Richmond-Burton and Johnsburg Thanksgiving Boys Basketball Tournament.
Wauconda battled to force overtime but eventually ran out of time to make another comeback and lost 67-62 at Lou Ramirez Gym in Richmond.
"We just kept working hard on defense," King said after he had 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocked shots.
"That's the way our kids are, they're fighters," said Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager. "Our defense puts us in a position to do those things.
"I thought we did a good job of scrapping down low and fighting and making sure we got rebounds. Down the stretch that's what helped us."
What hurt Wauconda (0-2) was 29 turnovers which led to 24 points. Fullcourt pressure from Jefferson (2-0) fueled a 20-2 tear for a 23-12 lead 7:48 before halftime and seven 3-pointers from guards Antoine Pittman (22 points) and Jared Mayes (19 points) helped increase the lead to 36-21.
"That's going to be one of the things we have to work on," Luetschwager said. "We definitely have to lower our turnovers and give our guards help so they aren't on an island by themselves. You're not going to win many games with that many turnovers, but to get to overtime tells you what our defense was able to do."
The 6-foot-6 Sidlowski had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Wauconda shot 50 percent from the field (23-for-46) and 16-for-20 on free throws and was outrebounded only 38-35. Jefferson shot 32.4 percent (24-for-74) from the field, 9-for-21 on free throws and 10-for-27 on 3s.
A 3-point play by Wauconda junior Dion Head (13 points) sparked a 9-0 run the final 2:54 of regulation. King hit a reverse layup off 1 of 7 assists by Keith Blomberg, who then hit 2 free throws after drawing a charge. Blomberg and Head forced a turnover and Austin Swenson (15 points, 11 rebounds) tied it with 22 seconds left when he scored off his own missed 3.
Jefferson missed two chances in the last five seconds to win but never trailed in overtime. Head's 2 free throws tied it at 58-58 with 2:44 left but 4 turnovers led to a 9-1 burst that put Jefferson in position to play for first place in its pool at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Grayslake North (2-0), a 50-48 winner over Richmond-Burton.
"We came in (to overtime) with a chip on our shoulder and ready to get a win," King said of his team which lost 54-49 to Grayslake North on Tuesday. "We were fighting and getting loose balls because we're a small team and we have to work hard. I'm psyched for the season and we're ready to go with what we have."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.