Hutchinson's clutch 3-pointer puts Wheeling past Elk Grove
Wheeling's Elijah Hutchinson broke the hearts of Elk Grove's boys basketball team and fans Friday night.
The visiting Grenadiers, looking to break a long losing streak in the Mid-Suburban East, led 56-55 with just seconds remaining on the Wildcats' home court.
Then Hutchinson delivered a dagger.
The 6-foot-3 senior measured a long 3-pointer from just to the left of the top of the key with 10 ticks left in the game, and sank the clutch shot to give Wheeling the lead.
Elk Grove rushed the ball downcourt, then after a timeout, a contested Grens 3-point shot for the win fell short as Wheeling won 58-56.
"I'm proud of him," said Wildcats coach Tom Antosz of Hutchinson. "He had a couple big 3s and a couple big stops.
"He's been working his tail off. He's a great kid, and came up big in a big moment."
Wheeling took a 10-5 lead late in the first quarter after 2 free throws from 6-3 senior forward Aima Igiehon, who finished 9-of-11 from the line and led the home team with 21 points.
But behind 10 second-quarter points from guard Bronson Bartuch, the Grens led at the half 23-20.
" (Bartuch) is a really talented player," said Antosz. "We were trying to get the ball out of his hands as much as possible. We gave him some different looks, some different things to think about and ultimately, our guys executed well."
Elk Grove, which hit 9 3s in the contest, came out firing in a back-and-forth third quarter.
Senior Jaden Alberson scored 5 points and grabbed 5 third-period boards as Elk Grove extended the lead.
"We started trying to switch things up a little bit (on defense)," said Antosz, "because Elk Grove runs a lot of different offensive sets."
The Grens took a 7-point lead midway through the fourth quarter after a steal and coast-to-coast layup from Bartuch.
But the Wildcats slowly crept back into the game, and when Igiiehon sank a foul shot with under a minute left, Wheeling trailed by just 1.
Then came the biggest defensive play of the game, as Wildcats senior guard Aman Shah forced a Grens turnover at half-court with just 20 seconds left to give Wheeling a chance.
The Wildcats worked the ball around and found Elijah Hutchinson open for the game winner.
"The most important possession for us is the one that we're playing," said Antosz.
Bartuch paced the Grens with 18 points, while Alberson scored 8 and grabbed 7 rebounds. Teammate Garrett Ewen finished with 14 points.
Elijah Hutchinson and Josh Hutchinson each scored 14 for Wheeling, while Josh Hutchinson led the Wildcats on the glass with 7 boards.
"This was a team effort tonight," said Antosz. "That's something that we talk about all the time and the kids have really bought into it."