Nate Drye did not hesitate when deciding to roll the dice.
I didnt want to play overtime, the Aurora Central Catholic boys basketball coach said. We had come too far to go into overtime.
Anthony Andujar made his mentor look like a genius.
The ACC senior guard drained a 3-pointer his first field goal of the game with three seconds remaining to give the Chargers a 1-point lead over top-seeded Wheaton Academy Wednesday night of the Class 3A IMSA regional semifinal in Aurora.
Wheaton Academy frantically called timeout, which the referees granted with 1.8 seconds to play.
But a Wheaton Academy player was cited for a technical foul for saying something to a referee during the stop in play. Andujar split the free throws, and Zach Flint broke free from a mad scramble at half-court, scoring at the buzzer to cement the Chargers 41-37 victory.
Fourth-seeded ACC (16-12) will face another conference rival, St. Francis, Friday night for the championship.
Wheaton Academy, which defeated the Chargers by 29 points in the teams last meeting, had its season close at 19-7.
This is bigger than the sectional title (two years ago), Andujar said of the stunning verdict. I knew I was going to knock that shot down and help my team get the win. We just executed very well (down the stretch).
He picked a great time to make one, Drye said of the shot that gave ACC a 38-37 lead. We wanted to put the pressure on (Wheaton Academy) and see how they would respond in a big moment.
Wheaton Academy enjoyed its largest lead of the game at 32-23 early in the fourth quarter, but, with 6-foot-8 post Gordon Behr riding the pines with four fouls, the Chargers Phil Schuetz saw his opening.
The senior forward scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the last quarter, including 4 inside scores on a variety of moves off the low block.
Behr, who paced the Warriors with 13 points, played 14 seconds in the fourth quarter.
He fouled out as Schuetz converted the subsequent free throws to bring Aurora Central to within 35-32.
Wheaton Academy had three punitive turnovers in the final two minutes that Aurora Central capitalized on as the 3-pointer by Andujar from the top of the key was the most glaring.
Were really disappointed, Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson said. ACC made the plays when it counted. We uncharacteristically turned the ball over in the fourth quarter and missed free throws. We had the game. We just made mistakes.
Sean Soris added 11 points for Aurora Central, which trailed 13-12 at halftime.