By Randy Whalen
Bogan was built to win a state championship.
A late fourth-quarter surge by East St. Louis and some key miscues at both ends of the floor in the waning seconds of regulation, however, prevented them from doing so.
Spurred by 32 points and 10 rebounds from Terrence Hargrove Jr. the Flyers rallied for a 68-63 overtime victory over the Bengals in the Class 3A state championship game, played March 16 at Carver Arena in Peoria.
Bogan’s Rashaun Agee, playing in his final high school game, did everything he could to help the Bengals attempt to win a state title in their first-ever finals appearance. The 6-foot-8 forward scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but he his teammates saw a game they had led for more than 30 minutes – and in which they were ahead with three seconds to play – slip away.
East St. Louis never led the game until the 2:06 mark of overtime.
"We played hard," Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin said. "We came down here and gave it all we could give. But we made a few fundamental mistakes and it cost us the game.
Bogan led 47-38 after a pair of free throws by Bengals senior guard Jordan Booker with 5:15 to play in regulation. Booker, who finished with 8 points, later scored on a layup with 3:07 left for a 51-44 lead. But the Flyers (30-6) scored seven straight points to tie the game for the first time at 51-51 with 1:22 to play.
Agee scored on a put-back after a rebound with exactly a minute remaining to put the Bengals back up by two, but Bogan missed the front end of a one-and-one twice in the final 28 seconds. That allowed East St. Louis to have the ball for the final shot at the end of regulation.
"We always tell them, 'Little things win games and little things lose games,’” Goodwin said. “If we make free throws and box-out [on the other end] the game is over. We didn't do the little things to finish this game off.".
The Flyers’ Jashawan Anderson (13 points, four assists, four steals) was fouled away from the basket with 4.6 seconds left, but the junior guard missed the front end of his one-and-one; however, after not being boxed out, 6-foot-7 senior forward Richard Robinson was there to grab it on a perfectly timed put-back slam with three seconds to play in regulation to knot the game at 53.
Robinson finished with 11 points and 10 boards.
"I just grabbed it and the rest is history basically," Robinson said. “I just saw the rim. It was really all a blur, it happened so quick."
A 70-foot heave by the Bengals was off the mark and the game went into overtime.
"I wasn't expecting to go into overtime," Booker said. "But it was the mistakes that cost us."
The Bengals once again had the advantage in overtime, but couldn’t hold off the resilient Flyers.
A layup by sophomore guard Darrion Jones (6 points) gave Bogan a 61-57 lead with 2:06 to play in the extra session, but East St. Louis scored five straight points to take its first lead of the game.
A scoop layup by Jones with 55 seconds to play gave Bogan one last lead, 63-62, but 21 seconds later, Hargrove, a Saint Louis University recruit, hit a jumper to give the Flyers the lead for good.
Agee fouled out with 21 seconds left but he didn't lose hope.
"I really wasn't frustrated," Agee said of fouling out. "I had a team behind me. Why give up now?"
Trailing 65-63, junior guard Antonie Bloxton (10 points, 3 assists) was just short on a 3-point attempt for the Bengals. Anderson then converted an old-fashioned 3-point play at the other end with 1.5 seconds left and East St. Louis celebrated its first basketball state championship in school history.
"We came here to win it, we came here knowing we could win the 3A championship," Goodwin said. "Like I said, when you don't finish the game off, this is what happens. It's part of March Madness. You have to make free throws, you have to box out, you can't turn the ball over at the end.
"But [East St. Louis] is a good team. Rashaun battled all the way to the end. It was a good game, we gave everyone a nice show down here."
Flyers coach Mark Chambers was complimentary of Bogan.
"That is a great team over there," Chambers said. "You hate to see anyone lose that game. Just like all year long, my guys found a way. You can’t coach that. You listen to them talk, you see them work and that is where it all comes from — believing in greatness.”
3A State Semifinals
In a semifinal game on March 15, the Bengals cruised to a 51-31 win over DePaul Prep.
Agee led the way with 13 points, 15 rebounds, and three steals. Booker had 10 points and three assists and Jones had 10 points and 3 steals) for the Bengals, who led the entire game.
Agee hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring and Bogan raced out to a 27-13 lead at halftime.
The Rams (25-10), who the next day defeated Peoria Manual (19-13) 64-44 in the third-place game, scored six straight points in the opening minute of the third quarter to close within 27-19. But they never got closer as the Bengals upped the lead to 41-27 after three, and held DePaul to four points in the fourth.
Senior guard Perry Cowen led the Rams with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"When we got to this gym, my eyes lit up because we love playing on the big court," Goodwin said of his first impression of Carver Arena.
While the Bengals fell just short of the state title, they still got to the big dance for the first time ever.
"I love the team concept, Goodwin said after the semifinal game. "I love these guys and they love each other. There's no hidden agenda on this team."