CLIFTON — Trying to contain a talented, imposing post player like Chicago Corliss’ 6-10 all-stater George Conditt was certainly a challenge for the Fieldcrest boys basketball squad, but one that it handled very capably.
It’s just that when the Trojans added an unexpected but consistent perimeter threat that the Knights found themselves in trouble.
With the FHS helping 2-3 zone sagging to the paint to cut off Conditt, limiting the lanky Iowa State University signee to just nine points, Corliss went to Plan B and connected on four 3-pointers in the opening period. That and an aggressive half-court trapping defense allowed them to take control and ultimately claim a 60-49 victory over the Knights in the Clifton Central Class 2A Sectional semifinal here on Wednesday night.
The feisty Knights answered with a barrage from the arc of their own. In cutting a 14-point deficit to just three right before the half and a 13-point hole down to just five with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Fieldcrest got a combined 10 3-pointers from Ryan Naas, Hayden Carls and Cam Grandy in their 18, 17 and 12 points, respectively.
However, Corliss (22-4) used a parade to the free-throw line to survive without a field goal in the final stanza to advance to Friday’s 7 p.m. sectional title tilt against Momence. FHS, meanwhile, finishes the season at 17-10.
“We talked about winning the battle, which was shutting Conditt down, but losing the war, meaning the ballgame itself and that’s kinda what we did tonight,” said Fieldcrest coach Matt Winkler. “We tried to lean on him, tried to make sure that if he got the ball we’d have three guys there around him, but it really threw us out of whack when they came out and hit all the 3s they hit in the first quarter. That made us over-extend (our zone).
“We just needed to make more shots. Their defensive pressure really dictated a lot of our indecisiveness and that threw us off just a bit … But I’m so proud of our guys for battling the way they did. We had a chance to win the game and that’s all you can ask.”
A pair of treys by Dhashon Dyson started and ended the difference-making opening period and along with a couple of 3s by Gabriel Bossi, had the Trojans out in front 16-7. A drive down the lane by Bossi widened that gap to 30-16 with 3:35 left in the second before that Knights caught fire, reeling off the last eight of the half – the last six on treys by Carls and Naas, to make it 30-24 at the break. Another Naas 3-ball in the third cut the locals’ deficit to 32-29.
But Corliss continued to bomb away, with back-to-back triples by Dyson keying 10 straight points for a 13-point edge before FHS made one last run.
Two treys by Grandy coupled with one each by Carls and Naas set up a putback by Naas with 5:38 left that made it 47-42. That’s when the Knights went cold on their way to a chilly 4-of-17 final period, leaving them with the same number of fielders as Corliss (17) but in many more shots (55 to 34).
Needing to foul to get the ball back, the Trojans sank 14-of-22 from the line, getting five each from Bossi and Antonio Glasscoe – to hold on for the win.
“The run at the end of the half was huge. It felt like the Chicago Christian game all over again,” said Winkler, referring to the regional semifinal game in which his club trailed by seven with 59 seconds, but went on to win by three. “We felt energized. We came out of the lockerroom and felt we had a chance to win the ballgame, we knew we had a chance to win the ballgame and they never quit. They never quit all season long … We got some good looks from 3 in the fourth quarter. We just couldn’t knock them down.”
At the Crater, Clifton
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
CORLISS (60) — Conditt 2-4 5-7 9, Mapp 2-6 0-4 4, Lewis Jr. 0-1 1-2 1, Dyson 6-14 1-2 18, Bossi 7-9 7-8 23, Glasscoe 0-0 5-8 5, Silas 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-34 19-31 60.
Fieldcrest (17-10) 11 13 13 12 — 49
Corliss (22-4) 16 14 16 14 — 60
3-point goals — Fieldcrest 10-31 (Naas 5-10, Carls 3-8, Grandy 2-4, Cook 0-1, Cusac-McKay 0-1 Nix 0-1); Corliss 7-12 (Dyson 5-10, Bossi 2-2). Rebounds — Fieldcrest 25 (May 8); Corliss 30 (Conditt 8). Turnovers — Fieldcrest 8; Corliss 9. Total fouls (fouled out) — Fieldcrest 19 (Naas); Corliss 8 (none).