PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Drew Gibson just couldn’t get going against Okawville’s nagging defense during Saturday’s IHSA Class 1A state title game. Averaging 21 points a game entering the title match, Gibson had just 10 points during regulation of the Bulldogs’ 49-46 overtime win.
But he shined when his team needed him the most.
Gibson hit an 8-foot jumper with 25 seconds left in overtime and then hit two free throws with 3.6 seconds left to lead St. Anthony to its first boys basketball state title.
“They did a great job of stopping up the middle and not letting me get inside,” Gibson said. “My teammates hit some big shots and really helped us.”
The Bulldogs initially pulled away over the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second. St. Anthony went on an 11-0, 6-minute run during that span, taking an 8-8 tie game to 19-8 Bulldogs. But Okawville only allowed two more points in the half and closed to 23-16 at the break.
The Bulldogs created 10 points off eight Rockets turnovers in the first half but it was the Rockets that took advantage of mistakes in the second half. Okawville had just four points off turnovers in the first half but created 11 in the second and held St. Anthony to none after the break.
“We did a better job dictating the game in the second half but it just wasn’t quite enough,” Okawville coach Jon Kraus said. “We just couldn’t get a stop when we needed it. It’s a shame someone had to lose that game.”
Alex Beesley also scored 14, most in the first half, and Adam Levitt added 12 for the Bulldogs (31-5).
Noah Frederking scored 26 and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Okawville. Shane Ganz added nine points and handed out five assists for the Rockets (32-5) but was just 1-for-4 from the free throw line, including a missed front end of a one-and-one with 5 seconds to go in overtime that would have tied the game.