By Justin Whitaker
PLAINFIELD — It took just about every single second of 32 minutes to decide a winnerbetween Plainfield and Cascade last Saturday night.
Quaker senior Luke Jones hit a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to lift Plainfield over Cascade 46-43.
It was Jones’ first game-winning shot in his career and he was close to speechless after making the clutch shot.
“You see it on TV all the time and big time players stepping up in big time moments,” he said. “And it went it.”
Cascade’s Eric Bobadilla stepped to the line trailing 43-41 with 7.8 seconds remaining. He made the first, then Plainfield attempted to ice him with a timeout and the senior made the clutch second free throw.
“I think every year when you have seniors on the team, there’s some magical moment that every senior has, and that was his tonight,” Cascade coach Chris DuBois said. “He stepped up and hit those free throws, clutch free throws.”
On the inbounds, Plainfield senior Jake Jay received the ball and dribbled the length of the floor where he found Jones waiting on the right wing. Jones shot without hesitation and was mobbed shortly thereafter by his teammates and Quaker fan section.
“It really just went so fast,” Jones said. “I saw it go in. I looked at the scoreboard and the next thing I know, we’re in here in the locker room.”
With 11 lead changes on the evening, Cascade (4-11) was never out. The Class 2A Cadets gave everything the Class 4A Quakers could handle.
“We talked about this before the game, that a lot of 4A schools don’t respect the smaller schools,” DuBois said. “That was our biggest key to come out and battle. To do everything we can to make Plainfield respect us. We did that. I don’t think there’s a fan in here tonight that would that disagree with me on that.”
The Quakers were led by freshman Max Kurkowski, who scored 18 points. Kurkowski contributed 15 points of Plainfield’s 29-23 halftime lead as he carried the load for his team.
“He really did offensively,” Plainfield coach Andy Weaver said.
Cascade burst out of the locker room with a 9-0 run to start the third quarter and led 32-29 after two Daljot Bajwa free throws. Bajwa led Cascade with 16 points and 12 rebounds on the night.
DuBois gave his team simple instructions in the locker room: “Stop 20 (Kurkowski) from scoring.”
The Cadets listened as the freshman only had three points in the fourth quarter.
The Quakers scored two field goals in the third and they didn’t come until the final 2:30 of the period.
“Sometimes we have an empty quarter, that’s our nemesis and we had an empty quarter there in the third quarter,” Weaver said.
Bobby Jensen added two points and then Will Williams connected on a 3-pointer to give Plainfield a 34-32 lead at the end of the third.
“A huge three by Will Williams at the end of the third quarter,” Weaver said. “I thought that was huge, a little momentum, and then we got the first bucket of the fourth quarter so that little stretch there got us a little bit of a lead.”
The Quakers tacked on two buckets from Williams and Jensen again to stretch the lead to 38-32 in the fourth.
Cascade again battled back, as an offensive rebound and putback by Schuyler Hart cut the lead to 41-39. Jensen scored a layup to stretch the deficit to four points but Bajwa grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 1:01 remaining to make the score 43-41.
Weaver credited Williams, Kurkowski, and Jensen for stepping up during the fourth quarter.
“With that empty third quarter, we had to put some points on there and then have a lead,” he said.
For the evening, the Cadets attempted 27 free throws to nine by the Quakers.
“We got to look at why,” Weaver said. “And those are veteran officials and the game was called right. Those are good officials.”
Of the 27 Cascade free throws, they were only able to connect on 15 of them.
“That really hurt us,” DuBois said.
After last season’s 1-20 record and starting this year off 3-11, first-year coach Weaver said these type of wins are important for getting the program turned in the right direction.
“The more we’re in these situations, the more we can learn,” he said. “Just based on where the program has been this year and last year, to put ourselves in that situation and learn from it is big.”