Boys’ basketball advances to sectional championship

Jason Flam, Web Editor

The boys’ basketball team never backed down after trailing by twelve points with five minutes left in the first half, or even after trailing by seven with three minutes left in regulation. Senior star point guard and Lewis University commit Ryan Jackson led the Bulldogs to victory over the Orr Spartans (15-10) and University of Illinois recruit Mycheal Henry 60-54 on Wednesday night, with Illini Coach Bruce Weber in attendance.  Jackson dropped 23 big points on a night where the Bulldogs seemed to struggle from the field.

Orr seemed to slow the pace of the game when they had the ball, and kept the Bulldogs in check offensively. But the Dogs kept forcing the issue, continuing to take long range shots until they started to fall.

6’9” senior forward Alex Dziagwa had his best game of the season adding 17 points and 12 boards, capping off the win with an electrifying dunk with 27 seconds left to play that sent the crowd into a frenzy. After the monster performance “Z” was all smiles, embracing the mob of students that stormed the court to celebrate with the team.

“It was a huge win”, said Dziagwa. “First time we’ve ever won a sectional game; we’re making history.”

He also acknowledged crowd, most notably RB’s student section the “Sixth Man”, saying, “Right before the tip-off for the second overtime, I looked up into the Sixth Man and saw everyone holding up their Z’s and that’s when I knew we were going to win.”

The Dogs trailed for most of the game, missing their first nine three-point attempts, but played suffocating defense to keep Orr close. Senior forward Mike LeBeau and junior forward Luke Nortier were able to contain Henry to 14 points and held Ball State recruit and senior guard C.J. Jones to 15 points while forcing some critical turnovers in the key moments of the game.

Jackson hit a pair of free throws with 48 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 40, and after an unsuccessful possession for the Spartans, Jackson missed a hit a half-court shot sending the contest into overtime. He then drained a three-pointer to start the first overtime, but Orr came charging back and eventually took a two point lead with 12 seconds to play. That’s when Jackson received the ball in the post and made a beautiful spin move lay-up to force double overtime.

In the second OT, Dziagwa took over by dominating on the boards, blocking Henry on two separate occasions, creating plays down low that forced Henry to foul out of the game, and scoring 10 of the last 12 RB points including the last 8 points of the game after going 6 of 6 from the charity stripe.

The Bulldogs will face Crane tonight at 7:30 at RB for the sectional championship.