Boys basketball: McLain brings Panthers pain with buzzer-beater

PAXTON — Driving straight towards the basket, Tanner McLain looked like he would run into the padded wall before he attempted a last-second shot.

But the Rantoul Township High School junior guard gathered himself on the right block just before the buzzer and put up an off-balance layup attempt.

The shot fell through as time expired to give the Eagles boys basketball team a 58-56 overtime win against host Paxton-Buckley-Loda on Saturday night in nonconference play.

"I got the rebound and saw there were five seconds on the clock," said McLain, who finished with 11 points. "I was pushing the ball as hard as I could. I could have dished it off, but I felt like I could get the layup in. It feels good to get another win."

McLain's heroics came after PBL junior Drew Schrodt (11 points, seven rebounds) missed a drive in the waning seconds, giving the Eagles (7-9) just enough time to get a shot off before a possible second overtime arrived.

"We were so stagnant on offense the whole night, I didn't want to call a timeout there," RTHSl head coach Brett Frerichs said. "I had two timeouts left, and I saw we had the potential for a 2-on-1 (fastbreak). Tanner took it aggressively, and he got up a good shot for us. He's put a lot of work into our program the last three years, and offensively, he's struggled a bit lately, but he came up with big shots tonight."

PBL (7-5) led RTHS 41-35 with 1:30 left in the third quarter before the Eagles rallied to extend their winning streak to three games.

Junior guards Devine Thompson and Talon Hardin each hit four three-pointers en route to 14 points apiece and played a big part in the comeback.

Thompson's 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:18 left in regulation tied the game at 48, and the score stood that way until overtime after PBL — which received a game-high 17 points from junior guard Jay Eshelman — couldn't get a shot up in the closing seconds of regulation.

Hardin gave Rantoul a 54-51 lead with 2:07 left in overtime when he sank a triple from the right corner, but PBL regained the lead at 56-54 when junior guard Weston Weber (nine points) drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:10 left.

A bucket inside by Rantoul senior forward Greg Morrow tied the game at 56 with 52 seconds left and set up the thrilling finish.

"When you see the kids work that hard and play that hard, they deserve to win," PBL head coach Scot Vogel said. "We really played a full game where you wanted to see them reward themselves, but they came up just a bit short. I'm proud of them. I don't think you can ask for a better effort."
mdaniels@rantoulpress.com

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