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GENOA - At the beginning of the basketball season Marcus McGee was not a starter and saw little court time for Woodmore.
At the end of the regular season last night, however, the 6-0 senior guard not only started, but finished the Wildcats' 59-57 victory over Genoa with a coast-to-coast, buzzer-beating layup to give Woodmore a share of its first Suburban Lakes League championship since 1996.
``I looked up at the clock with four seconds left and I knew I had to get down there and do my best to get it in,” McGee said. “When I crossed the 3-point line I saw there was just a little bit left and I was able to get it off. It wasn't the way we wanted it [after a late 11-point lead], but we ended up pulling out the win.”
In a frenzied conclusion to the Comets' furious fourth-quarter rally from 11 down with 4:27 play, Genoa's 6-8 junior center, Zach Diekman (14 points, 16 rebounds), netted two clutch free throws with 20.4 seconds remaining for a 57-57 tie. Diekman had eight points in the final 1:36.
Woodmore (13-7, 11-3 SLL) advanced upcourt and got a quick shot inside from Brian Perkins that rimmed out. Genoa's Brad Beach (12 points) rebounded, found Kevin Dunn (12 points) near midcourt, and Dunn cruised in from the left wing for what looked to be a go-ahead layup with 0:08 left.
But the ball rolled out, McGee (13 points) rebounded, then dribbled up-court in time to save the day for Woodmore, which had finished as SLL runner-up in each of head coach Don Christie's first four seasons.
“We had the game in control and then I could sense it starting to slip away,” said Christie, who was a Woodmore assistant under current Genoa athletic director Jude Meyers for the '96 title. “After four years of finishing runner-up, I didn't want to do this again. I think my wife was up there saying the same thing, because she's had to live with me the last four years after finishing runner-up.”
Genoa (10-10, 8-6), which enjoyed a two-inch height advantage per man, had won six straight games, all in the SLL, and had a chance to spoil their Route 51 rival's title shot.
“We had all the momentum at the end,” Genoa coach Jeff Overmyer said. “They held the ball and kind of played not to lose there. Our players sensed that and we were able to get a couple defensive stops while they were back on their heels.
“They stopped attacking us and we started attacking them. Our kids gave a great effort. A lot of teams would've packed in there down 11.”
Woodmore found a way to neutralize the bigger Comets inside, and used good ball movement and interior passing to keep a lead most of the game.
Dunn's last-second 3-pointer from just inside halfcourt pulled Genoa within 28-27 at halftime, but Woodmore used a 15-6 third quarter and led by 10.
Genoa got within 47-40 on Beach's basket with 5:02 to play before buckets from 6-3 sophomore Tyler Rosenberger (20 points, eight rebounds) and McGee gave Woodmore a 51-40 lead with 4:27 left. But with the Cats missing five of nine free throws, Genoa outscored them 17-6 from there until McGee's game-winner.
“We just had to have confidence in our teammates,” Rosenberger said of surviving Genoa's rally. “We knew we weren't going to lose this game because we worked too hard and too long for this.”
Woodmore was 24-of-54 (44 percent) from the field, 8-of-15 from the line, and committed just seven turnovers while forcing 12. Genoa was 22-of-56 (36 percent) from the field, 11-of-13 from the line and outrebounded the Wildcats 39-31.44.41034 8.9389