Warriors edge Leafs, 40-37

Amy Carton
Blake Croegaert drains a shot from beyond the arc March 2 against Sterling.

Everyone in attendance March 2 at Rock?Island High School for the boys’ basketball IHSA Regional Semifinal between co-NIB 12 champs Geneseo and Sterling knew it was going to be a dogfight to the bitter end.

In the end, it was Sterling who was able to edge out the Leafs in the final minutes for a 40-37 victory.

A slow start by the Leafs allowed the Golden Warriors to grab a quick jump on their conference foes in the first half.

Sterling took advantage of their chances in the first quarter to take the 13-9 lead. The Golden Warriors scored another 10 points in the second quarter and held the Leafs to only six for the 23-15 advantage at the break.

The Leafs surged back in the third quarter to gain control of the lead. Geneseo knocked down 14 points and only allowed Sterling two in the quarter to take the 29-25 lead.

In the final minutes of action, the Golden?Warriors put together a late run and the Leafs were unable to convert, which made the difference in the game.

In the closing seconds, Sterling missed the second of two free throws, but an unfortunate tip kept the ball in Sterling’s possession with 4 seconds left. Geneseo was down by three with time ticking off the clock, but was unable to get the ball down the court before time ran out.

Sterling advanced to the regional championship match with Rock?Island March 4 where the Rocks defeated Sterling, 67-49.

Blake Croegaert and Connor Johnson led the Geneseo offense, both scoring in double figures.

Croegaert posted 12 points for the Leafs as he knocked down two shots from beyond the arc and three field goals.

Johnson added 10 points as he hit a three pointer, three shots from the field and a free throw.

Jared Kuban finished the night with six points on three field goals, followed by Billy Hamer with four points on two field goals.

Landon Hoon chipped in three points with a three pointer and Tyler Fisher ended the game with two points on a  field goal.

The Leafs finish the season at 13-13 overall and 8-1 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference and a tie for first place with Sterling.

Connor Johnson makes the basket inside the paint against Sterling.