Metea Valley's Holden Rank has hit game-winning shots before. This one was special.
"I've had a couple, but this is one of the good ones," Rank said of his 17-foot jumper right of the free throw line with 16.3 seconds left to send the Mustangs ahead of Waubonsie Valley for good.
Metea rallied from a 7-point deficit with 1:12 left on its home court to win the DuPage Valley Conference contest 53-50 in Aurora.
"They were able to regroup, and I give our guys a lot of credit because they could have just gone away and that would have been the game," said Mustangs coach Matt Walpole. "But they forced them into a couple turnovers, we got a couple plays with guys going downhill, toward the basket, and they executed that play at the end for Holden flawlessly."
Recovering from a 19-0 Waubonsie Valley run occupying more than eight minutes of the third and fourth quarters, Metea Valley (6-7, 2-3) overcame a 50-43 deficit by scoring the last 10 points.
From the top of the key Manny Hess hit a 3 that crawled over the rim, and Brad Hartje converted a three-point play. Ethan Helwig found Rank open for the 51-50 lead. Helwig's free throws with 5.8 seconds left capped the scoring.
"Everyone on our team did everything they needed to and it just worked out that I went up to the 'elbow' and made a good shot. It just went in. I think it's all team effort in the end, and it made it happen," said Rank, whose 14 points joined Helwig and Hartje in double figures for Metea with 16 and 12, respectively.
Making 1 of 6 fourth-quarter free throws, 3 of 9 for the game, Waubonsie (6-7, 2-3) turned the ball over several times in Metea's final surge. That largely did not happen when the Warriors rallied from a 38-26 third-quarter deficit to lead 45-38 at 4:15 of the fourth quarter.
"There was a stretch from the middle of the third quarter to about two minutes left where we did everything we were supposed to do. We've just got to kind of bottle that up and try and use it more often," said Warriors coach Jason Mead, citing ball movement, contesting shots on defense and junior point guard Eric Cannon going off.
Cannon scored a game-high 23 points, 14 of them and three of his six 3-pointers during that 19-0 run. Cannon's 3 early in the fourth quarter gave Waubonsie a 40-38 lead, its first since Caymen Woods scored the game's first basket. Marcus Skeete added 9 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks.
"It felt pretty good, a lot of confidence boost," said Cannon, a three-year starter. "I was just happy that our offense was able to flow, and it was a different shift in momentum, a different feel for our team."