Final play works to perfection as Kanellos’ open buzzer-beater sends New Trier to the sectional title game
(Editor’s Note: This story was updated on March 1 with clarification on the final play.)
A game-winning set requires focus, discipline and poise.
And an attraction like Jake Fiegen doesn’t hurt either.
With 1.6 seconds remaining in a tie game, as Glenbrook South defenders drifted toward Fiegen, New Trier inbounder Logan Feller found a wide-open Evan Kanellos cutting to the basket. Kanellos took Feller’s pass and turned it into an uncontested, buzzer-beating layup to give the Trevians a 42-40 victory over the Titans Tuesday, Feb. 28, in a sectional semifinal matchup.
Senior leader Jake Fiegen said the play calls for him to set a screen and then flash toward the corner on the inbounder’s near side. Normally, Fiegen said, he’s not screening Kanellos’ defender, but he did just below the free-throw line “because he was in my way. I didn’t even think about it.”
And since three other Titans checked Fiegen, Kanellos curled directly to an open basket.
“We had a play coming out of timeout. I think everyone on their team thought the ball was going to Jake,” Kanellos said. “He set a screen for me and I came wide open.”
Kanellos’ buzzer beater was actually one of four during the contest. Each quarter ended with a made basket, as Fiegen converted a floater to end the first, South’s RJ Davis made a putback layup to end the second, and Kanellos’ sank a fadeaway jump shot to end the third and the game-winner to end the game.
The drama ended a rugged sectional bout between the familiar opponents —New Trier seeded first in the sectional and Glenbrook South fourth — who also met in last year’s postseason, when the Titans ousted the Trevians in the sectional championship.
New Trier had the early advantage, using opportunistic first-quarter defense (4 steals) to put Glenbrook South in a 16-9 hole.
But the Titans’ defense responded, locking horns with the Trevians for a majority of the second quarter and trimming the deficit to 21-18 by halftime.
South big man Nick Taylor went to work in the third quarter, scoring 6 of his 15 points in the period and sparking a 9-0 Titans’ run. All of a sudden, South had a 27-21 advantage.
“We had a big scoring drought, but I looked at the clock and said, ‘We’re still in this game and we haven’t scored in five minutes,'” Fiegen said. “Everyone on the team knows we’re good and it’s going to come.”
The drought was closer to seven minutes before an Ian Brown three got the Trevians moving again.
Kanellos followed with a pair of baskets, including the buzzer-beating jumper to trim his team’s deficit to one point entering the fourth quarter.
The senior point guard finished with 10 points — 8 in the second half.
“We were struggling to score,” he said. “When shots aren’t falling, I just try to get in the paint and see what opens up and that’s kind of what I’m best at.”
In the final period, the game’s two senior stars — Fiegen (15 points) and South’s Gaven Marr (15 points) — went back and forth putting the ball in the basket.
A Fiegen drive and score tied the game at 40-40 with 2:30 to play, and on the other end of the floor, New Trier switched to their secondary defense: a 1-3-1 zone.
A South 3-point attempt a minute later was off the mark, and Fiegen nabbed the rebound to set up the final possession.
On New Trier’s first try, Fiegen’s shot attempt was deflected out of bounds with 1.6 left. After a timeout, Logan Feller took the ball out of bounds and found Kanellos for the game-winner.
New Trier advances to the sectional championship on Friday, March 3, in Northfield, where they will take on the winner of No. 3 Rolling Meadows and No. 2 Glenbrook North (Wednesday, March 1 game).
“It means a lot to everyone here because we really wanted to come back here Friday night,” Fiegen said. “Cutting down the nets on your home floor is really special and an opportunity … (that) is really rare.”
Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319