Maine West knew the game was not over.
The Warriors believed they could will their way back from a slow start.
But thinking those thoughts, and performing them are often two different challenges.
In Maine Wests home boys basketball contest with Elk Grove on Saturday night, what the Warriors believed wound up coming true.
The final score read 47-46 in favor of Maine West, but the story of the game goes well beyond that.
At one point in the first quarter, Elk Grove led 22-5.
Even with about a minute left in the third quarter, the Grenadiers were very much in control with a 33-26 lead.
From there, Maine West (12-11) went on a 13-2 run to take a 39-35 lead with 4:19 to play.
That didnt deter Elk Grove (11-12).
The Grens took a one-point lead with 2:17 to play, and the game was tied at 44 with 37 second left when Maine West guard Anthony Dones went to the free throw line and connected on both of his attempts. The Warriors only needed one more free throw from guard Allante Bates to have enough points to win the game.
We just had to keep fighting and not give up, Bates said. Weve been this position before and came back and won. We just had to keep playing hard.
Bates scored 15 points, with 11 of them coming after halftime.
Dones was the spark for the Warriors, though. He scored only 3 points, but grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. He led Maine West in rebounding, and hes listed at 5-foot-7 on the roster.
Although he is normally a starter, Dones came off the bench in Saturdays game.
I just came in and did whatever we needed to do, Dones said. We were down big at the beginning of the game, and I just tried to get us back into the game, and back into a rhythm running our offense.
While Dones and Bates were fantastic, it was senior guard Tom Kukec that scored a game-high 16 points for Maine West.
The fans that watch him know that hes a good shooter, Maine West coach Erik McNeill said. And thats what we do, we try to run sets for him. He is our best defender. Each night he has to guard their best player, and then he has to try to score for us. Its a compliment to him on what hes able to do without really subbing.
Elk Grove coach Anthony Furman pointed to the late 13-2 run for Maine West as the key point in the game. He felt his team made a couple of poor decisions during that stretch.
For as excellent as the first quarter was, thats poor, Furman said of the late stretch. Then you go down the line, and youve got to make plays. I thought we took a couple of poor shots, and made some poor decisions defensively. We found ourselves chasing a bucket, and trying to make a play at the end of the game.
Senior center Jake Gatziolis led Elk Grove with 10 points and seven rebounds. Eight of those points were scored in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Austin Amann, and senior center Brian Kelly each scored 8 for the Grens.