NORMAL -- In the final minute of Sunday's Special Olympics Illinois Senior 14 state basketball tournament championship game, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Panthers' Jakob Robison sought an opportunity to give one of his teammates a chance at a basket.
Robison handed the ball off to Kelly Griffin in the lane. After Griffin missed twice, Robison grabbed two offensive rebounds, giving Griffin a third chance, which would prove to be the charm as the third shot went into the basket with 33 seconds remaining.
“The other team backed off," PBL coach David Jackson said. "It was good sportsmanship."
Griffin's basket cut the Panthers' deficit to 57-32, which would be the final score as the Joliet Cornerstone Jaguars won the state championship while PBL's players took home silver medals.
Robison and Griffin each won a ribbon at the state tournament recognizing them as recipients of the Ron Knisley Spirit of the Games Award.
“Jakob and Tyler are good at trying to get (teammates) a basket," PBL head coach Alex Goudy said. "They're pretty good about trying to get her open. That's why we call Jake the protector. He just wasn't on his (game) today together. Mentally-wise, I don't think Jake was ready for today.”
The Jaguars scored 13 consecutive points to start the game before Amos Haskins scored on a driving layup with 1:50 left in the first quarter for PBL's only points of the opening quarter.
“Today definitely wasn't what we anticipated," Goudy said. "It just wasn't our day.”
Tyler Weersing, whose playing time was limited due to foul trouble, scored with 7:08 left in the second quarter to cut the Panthers' deficit to 13-4.
Harrison Short then scored a bucket with less than two minutes left in the first half to end a 12-0 Jaguars run and cut PBL's deficit to 25-6. With 15 seconds left in the second quarter, Haskins scored on an offensive-rebound putback to make the score 27-8 at halftime.
“(The Jaguars) played well together," Goudy said. "They're probably the first team that's ever got our team so frustrated that our kids were yelling at each other. Our kids play well together, and we usually don't have any issues with that, so we had to try to regain some composure. Tyler getting in foul trouble didn't help.”
Robison made a 3-pointer with 6:24 left in the third quarter to cut PBL's deficit to 29-11 before Taylor Chickini made a free throw with 5:44 remaining in the quarter to make the score 31-12.
Charman Snow scored on an offensive-rebound putback before Jack Vinyard scored on a fastbreak layup via a Haskins assist to make the score 34-16. A putback by Short made the score 38-18 before the Jaguars ended the third quarter on a 9-0 run.
Weersing scored to make the score 47-20 early in the fourth quarter after Vinyard made a play to save the ball from going out of bounds before Haskins scored on a fastbreak layup to cut PBL'S deficit to 47-22.
Chickini, Haskins and Vinyard each scored buckets whie Haskins also made two free throws during a 8-0 PBL run that cut the Panthers' deficit to 50-30 with 3:16 remaining in the game.
Haskins led the Panthers in scoring with 10 points while Short, Vinyard and Weerfing each had four points, Chickini and Robison each had three points and Griffin added two points.
“It was hard for the kids to take, but it's part of the game," Goudy said. “The kids were a little frustrated by the refs. There's nothing you can do about the refs' calls. You've just got to suck it up. It's state. We know there are good teams here, or else they wouldn't be here.”
“It's hard for them to deal with a loss," Jackson added. “We had a good season. I'm really proud of all of them. They've all improved through the year. I've seen a lot of improvement in all the kids this year.”
The Panthers reached the championship game via a 48-41 victory over Evanston on Saturday.
Haskins had a team-high 24 points, including two 3-pointers, for the Panthers, while Weersing had 17 points, Vinyard added five points and Mark Rexroad and Charman Snow each made a free throw.
“It wasn't a pretty win yesterday, but it was pretty good,” Goudy said after Sunday's game.
The Jaguars won their Saturday game 65-46 over the Bessemer Huggie Bears.
“They're a good team," Jackson said. They're the best team we faced. Our kids were frustrated, but they're all good kids."
Joliet Cornerstone Jaguars 57, PBL Panthers 32
PBL scoring -- Dusty Adams 0-0-0, Taylor Chickini 1-1-3, Kelly Griffin 1-0-2, Amos Haskins 4-2-10, Mark Rexroad 0-0-0, Jakob Robison 1-0-3, Brendan Schall 0-0-0, Harrison Short 2-0-4, Charman Snow 0-0-0, Ryan Snow 0-0-0, Daze Spencer 0-0-0, Jack Vinyard 2-0-4, Tyler Weersing 2-0-4. Totals 14-3-32.
3-pointers -- PBL (Robison).
PBL Panthers 48, Evanston 41
PBL scoring -- Taylor Chickini 0-0-0, Kelly Griffin 0-0-0, Amos Haskins 11-0-24, Mark Rexroad 0-1-1, Jakob Robison 0-0-0, Brendan Schall 0-0-0, Harrison Short 0-0-0, Charman Snow 0-1-1, Ryan Snow 0-0-0, Jack Vinyard 2-1-5, Tyler Weersing 8-1-17. Totals 21-4-48.
3-pointers -- PBL 2 (Haskins 2).