Undefeated Bismarck-Henning ends Hilltoppers' magical Class 2A sweet 16 run in 2A Pontiac Sectional final
Last updated 3/7/2020 at 12:30am
The final score was not indicative of how well Joliet Catholic (15-20) played in its Class 2A Pontiac Sectional final against undefeated Bismarck- Henning-Rossville-Alvin.
The scoreboard showed that the now 34-0 Blue Devils triumphed over JCA by a 53-39 margin.
With 1:59 remaining, the Hilltoppers were down only 40-34 before Bismarck Henning's All-State senior guard Drew Reifsteck nailed nine of 10 free-throws to break the Hilltoppers' hearts.
Reifsteck scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half - 13 in the crucial fourth quarter.
"We only had one day to prepare for Reifsteck," JCA coach Joe Gura said. "We could have had three days and I don't think it would have matter that much. What makes Reifsteck special is his ability to score but also on numerous occasions he would find wide-open teammates for easy lay-ups."
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 17-13 first quarter lead.
Behind junior Drew Buss, who dropped five long-range three-point bombs on the Blue Devils and score 17-first half points, JCA led 26-24 at the half. Senior Mitchell Fenske's buzzer-beating lay-up to close out the first-half gave the Hillmen the two-point lead.
Reifsteck scored seven points in the third quarter to give the Blue Devils a 38-33 lead after three quarters.
There was only one basket Reifsteck scored in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. The Blue Devil defense just totally shutout the JCA inside game and Buss did not score in the second half.
"Bismarck-Henning switched to a man-man in the fourth quarter," Gura added. "We just could not score inside. Drew, having to expend so much energy on defense, wasn't able to knock down any second-half three pointers."
In his last game of his solid JCA career, senior Christian Young buried a fourth quarter three pointer for the Hill and hauled down eight rebounds. For the entire game, Young and Reifsteck were in each other's face, when each had the ball.
"We battled tonight and had a great season," Young said. "Reifsteck is a great player and he was tough to guard tonight. I started my JCA career on the freshman team. Midway through my sophomore year, I was called up to the varsity. I worked very hard during my junior year and I really stepped up being the senior leader of our team this season."
"What an amazing run we had this season," Gura concluded. "We return four starters next year and our sophomores were 21-4. We are very excited about next season. I can't wait."