On a night of emotional highs and lows, Jaylin Mosby made sure it was a happy ending for the Belleville West Maroons at the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout Saturday.
The senior guard drained an NBA range three-point shot with seven seconds remaining in overtime to give the Maroons a 55-54 win over perennial Illinois power Chicago Simeon before a capacity crowd at O’Fallon High School.
With senior all-state center EJ Liddell slowed considerably after sustaining a sprained ankle just 2 minutes 40 seconds into the first quarter and the Maroons struggling on the offensive end for much of the night, Mosby, who was just 2-of-9 from the floor, took the pass from Liddell and made his 22-foot jumper which went cleanly through the basket.
“I had it. It felt good when it left my hands and I knew it was going in,’’ Mosby said. “I knew I was getting the ball because (Simeon) was going to double team EJ. I just had to make the shot.
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“Without question it’s the biggest shot of my life. It’s the craziest moment I’ve ever had. I’m going to remember it for a long, long time.’’
As will West coach Joe Muniz, the Maroons and the rest of the capacity crowd of nearly 3,000 which exploded as Mosby’s shot went in.
After the final buzzer, Muniz went sprinting across the floor to hug his senior guard.
“What can I say about these kids? I thought they showed a tremendous among of courage and heart tonight,’’ Muniz said. “And Jaylin stepping up and hitting the shot? We knew EJ would be double teamed and that (Mosby) would be open. It was a big-time shot.
“I think everybody in this gym held their collective breath when EJ went down and I don’t think we reacted very well to it at first. We just reminded the kids that there are a lot of great players on this team. What can you say about EJ? He showed the heart of a lion.’’
Playing the seven-time state champions, Liddell and the Maroons came out of the gate fast. With Liddell scoring on a pair of dunks and senior guard Lawrence Brazil connecting on two of his four 3-point field goals, the Maroons (22-1) jumped out to a 15-10 lead.
Then Liddell came down hard in a crowd, holding his left ankle as the crowd went silent. After getting to his feet. He hobbled into the Maroons locker room then a few minutes later limped to the O’Fallon High School training room.
He returned in the second quarter but was not full sterngth.
“I went up and landed a little off,’’ Liddell said. “It’s happened before to the same ankle. I did it in Las Vegas this summer. I knew I could go though. It will be all right. I’ll just ice it up and I’ll play on Tuesday (against Collinsville).’’
Liddell still finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Senior Keith Randolph, whose basket to start overtime gave West the lead, added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Simeon (13-13) was led by Antonio Reeves with 17 points. Jeremiah Stamps added 10. But it was Stamps missed free throw late in ofertime with his team lesding 54-52 which gave Mosby and the Maroons a chance to win it.