When a pair of storied programs like Robinson and Olney get together, you can always expect a competitive, hard-fought contest and Friday night (Dec. 1)'s Little Illini Conference boys' basketball game was no different.
The Maroons and Tigers went toe-to-toe and four quarters was not enough to decide a winner. But when the dust finally settled, Robinson had pulled out a 70-66 win in overtime in the LIC opener for both teams.
"It was good for us to experience something like this," RHS head coach Mack Thompson said. "It was a great atmosphere and (Olney) coach (Rob) Flanagan always has his guys ready to play. Olney played well, but our guys made enough plays to win."
The game was close virtually throughout, but both teams struggled to get into a rhythm early due to some questionable officiating on both sides. Still, the teams battled through and came out of the first quarter tied 17-17 thanks to a three-pointer by Robinson's Brayden Childress with 20 seconds remaining.
While Robinson held a couple of leads in the first quarter, they never led in the second. Olney led by as many as five in the period and outscored RHS 18-15 to take a 35-32 lead at halftime.
The Maroons came out firing to start the third, as three-pointers by Dylan Smith and Walker Sandschafer sandwiched around an Olney basket gave Robinson a 38-37 lead. The margin increased to 41-39 after a basket and free throw from Branton Scott and the Maroons still led 47-46 in the closing seconds before a questionable foul call led to three shots for Olney freshman Braden Flanagan.
Flanagan would hit all three free throws and Olney took a 49-47 lead into the fourth quarter. A three-pointer by Brent Hatten at the outset of the period extended the Olney lead to 52-47, but Robinson answered with a 9-0 run that was aided by a pair of technical fouls on Olney.
A free throw by Smith started the run, then a basket by Sandschafer made the score 52-50 with 6:33 remaining. Then, after turnover by RHS, Olney's Kye Stallard was whistled for a technical foul. Smith promptly hit two free throws to tie the game, then Sandschafer scored on the ensuing possession and was fouled, giving Robinson a 54-52 lead at the 4:29 mark. Sandschafer would miss the free throw, but following the previous play coach Flanagan was hit with a technical foul and Smith added two more free throws to extend the RHS advantage to 56-52.
Robinson continued to stretch the lead on a three-point play by Sandschafer and two free throws from Childress, making the score 61-54 with 2:36 to play. However, Olney would answer with a 7-0 run on a three-pointer from Flanagan, a layup by Hatten and a steal and layup by Flanagan to even the score at 61-61 with 1:01 left.
The Maroons called time-out with 52.3 seconds left to set up a final play, but nearly turned the ball over while running the clock down and called another time-out with 9.3 seconds remaining. After the time-out, Chance Black's three-point attempt was blocked and a putback attempt by Childress was off the mark and the game headed to overtime.
Olney struck first in the extra session, but Black answered with a three-pointer and a free throw to give Robinson a 65-63 lead with 2:47 remaining. Flanagan countered with a three of his own to give Olney a 66-65 lead at the 1:50 mark, then after each team missed some free throws, Childress got behind the defense and scored on a putback of his own miss to put Robinson back on top, 67-66, with 1:26 to play.
After an Olney miss, Smith sank a pair of free throws with 52 seconds left for a 69-66 RHS lead. Olney tried to get Flanagan an open look for a three, but he eventually drove to the basket and was fouled with 10 seconds remaining. He would miss the front end of the one-and-bonus and Black sealed it with a free throw with seven seconds left to give the Maroons a hard-fought victory.
"Our guys had some bad things go against us, but they were able to overcome it," Thompson said. "We hit big shots, got stops and rebounds when we needed it. It was good to see us handle adversity and still come out with a victory."
Robinson shot the ball better than Olney from all spots on the floor. The Maroons made 54 percent of their field goal attempts (20-37), including 13-25 from two-point range (52 percent) and 7-12 from three-point range (58 percent), while Olney hit 24-55 shots (44 percent), which included a 15-34 effort from inside the arc (44 percent) and a 9-21 performance from long distance (43 percent).
The big difference was at the free throw line, where Robinson made 23-36 foul shots (64 percent), while Olney hit 9-15 free throws (60 percent).
"It seemed like we missed a lot more free throws than that," Thompson said. "But, we hit some big ones when we needed to late and hit enough to pull out the victory."
Smith led RHS with 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Black posted 18 points, three rebounds and one assist. Sandschafer totaled 14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, Childress contributed 13 points and five rebounds, Scott collected three points, six rebounds and one steal and Alex Weber added three points, four rebounds, one steal and one assist.
"Dylan always does a nice job defensively, but for him to step up like that offensively was pretty special," Thompson said.
Olney was led by Flanagan, who poured in 25 points, along with three rebounds, one steal and one assist, while Dakotah Brown posted 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal and Hatten added 14 points, three assists, three blocked shots, two rebounds and two steals.
"Hats off to the Flanagan boy, he is a nice player and had a heck of a game," Thompson said. "Alex did a nice job on him late in the game. Alex wanted to guard him and wanted that challenge and he did a pretty good job contesting him in the second half."
In the junior varsity game, Robinson came out on the short end of a 46-39 decision. Childress led RHS with 12 points, while Levi Hodge was also in double figures with 11.