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  • Writer's pictureAaron Ferguson

Metamora stunned after controversial late call

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

Redbirds season ends one step short of state in an overtime loss to Chicago Heights Marian.

Payton Havens jumps to try and block a half-court shot in Metamora's Class 3A Supersectional against Chicago Heights Marian. (Ron Johnson/Journal Star)

DEKALB — Metamora fought for respect all season, and the Redbirds thought they were short-changed at the Class 3A DeKalb Supersectional. Even after Malik Tidwell hit a 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to give Chicago Heights Marian a 49-46 victory on Tuesday night.

Thomas Hall hit a step-back jump shot from behind the high school 3-point arc for the Redbirds, but his shoes were on the deeper, college 3-point line. The basket was ruled a 2-pointer, which tied the game at 46 with 6.5 seconds left in OT.

Then, after a series of stoppages, Tidwell hit an open 3 to punch Marian’s ticket to the state semifinals and a date with Chicago Morgan Park at 11:15 a.m. Friday at Carver Arena

“If our 3-point shot’s a 3, we win,” Metamora boys basketball coach Danny Grieves said. “That’s unfortunate — obviously a 3.

“How much time’s left? We have fouls to give. ... It was kind of nice that they hit a 3 and got a 3. It would have been nice if we hit a 3 and got a 3. That’s a game-changer.”

Tidwell was 3-for-15 shooting for the game. “My teammates were confident in me shooting the shot,” he said. “I was confident in shooting the shot, even though I didn’t really hit any shots in this game.

“Someone told me the other day that I’d hit a game-winner today, so I followed through and I shot it and I thought it was going in as soon as it left my hand.”

Metamora (20-12) held a 39-30 lead with 6:24 left in regulation before Marian’s Josh Smith hit a pair of treys to cut the lead to 39-36.

That came against Metamora’s 3-2 zone and was part of a 10-2 Marian push that cut the lead to 41-40 with 4:11 left.

The Spartans (25-5) forced overtime after Chris Smith banked in a shot with 44.4 seconds left in regulation.

“We told them all week that you have to move the ball and then you have to attack gaps,” Marian coach Mike Taylor said. “But the key was Josh hitting those two 3s when we’re down nine points.”

Metamora went to its zone to try to prevent Marian from pulling down offensive rebounds. The Spartans had 10 offensive boards in the first half, which led to 10 more shots. They finished with 22 more shots than Metamora and 18 offensive rebounds.

Marian was 19-for-55 from the field, 6-for-15 on 3-pointers and 5-for-7 from the free-throw line. The Redbirds were more efficient with a 15-for-33/5-11/11-13 line.

“We were just trying to protect the lane and the rim and not let them get to it, and try to do a better job at blocking out so they didn’t get more offensive rebounds,” said Grieves.

The game started with a fast-paced first quarter, which Marian thought was an advantage. But Metamora matched the Spartans and led 17-16 after the first eight minutes. Then the pace slowed dramatically.

“We saw they probably couldn’t run with us, but they were keeping up with us even though we shot more shots than them,” said Tidwell. “They were more efficient and we didn’t really hit any shots in transition. They were blocking our shots, so that’s what led to a close game.”

Metamora was 6-4 in games decided by five points or fewer entering Tuesday’s supersectional, so the Redbirds weren’t strangers to close games and going long stretches without buckets.

Payton Havens hit a shot with 7:37 left in the third quarter, which was the last field goal until Hall hit a jumper with 1:18 left in overtime — a drought of 10:09.

“We always talk about a four-minute game or eight-minute game, and our kids played well enough to win that,” said Grieves.

Yet this year’s Redbirds made program history by winning a sectional championship.

“We made history and no one can take that away from us — regional champs and sectional champs,” said senior Clayton Bachman. “We finally made it to DeKalb — at the beginning of the year we honestly didn’t think we’d make it this far, and everyone wrote us off. I’m glad we proved everybody wrong, but at the same time it sucks that we’re sitting here right now talking about this because I don’t want to go home.”

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