DEPUE — DePue coach Charlie Klinefelter’s Little Giants may have a new moniker after their two recent games, Charlie’s Cardiac Comeback Crew, after two come from behind wins including a 55-50 home win Tuesday over Serena.
DePue, which defeated host Streator Woodland on Friday, came from 13 down at halftime to Serena behind their pressure defense and forcing the Huskers out of rhythm.
The Huskers and the Little Giants traded baskets throughout the third quarter but Isaac Reyes and Jose Raya helped their team go on an 8-0 run to end the third quarter and through the first minute of the fourth quarter.
DePue’s Austin Zimmer added a basket between the 8 points from Raya which forced Serena coach Jonathon Immel to call a timeout with 5:01 left in the contest.
“It’s our second big win that we were down by 13-14 after Friday at Streator Woodland,” said Klinefelter. “We stayed under control.”
The Little Giants (7-12) had 11 turnovers in the first half and turned the ball over only four times in the second half behind the energy of the loud and proud Little Giants’ faithful on hand to celebrate Pink Night.
“The crowd was fantastic, and it motivated the kids,” said Klinefelter of the crowd.
With just under three minutes left in the game, DePue’s Zimmer made a layup to put the hosts up 51-50 and on the next Serena possession, grabbed a key rebound off a Serena miss before Klinefelter called a timeout to calm his crew.
“We needed to move the ball and make good passes,” said Klinefelter of his timeout speech to his team.
His team did just that as they erased almost an entire minute off of the clock before Serena’s Trevor Wehner was whistled for a foul. Raya made one of his two free throws to put the hosts up two before Serena called a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Serena‘s shot was blocked by Raya which led to a Zimmer layup at the other end of the court to increase the lead to 4 with 11.2 left.
Zimmer, who finished with 11 points, added another rebound off a Dillon Huss miss along with a free throw before a Cal Mason halfcourt shot at the buzzer for the final.
“It is how you end not how you finish,” said Klinefelter of his team and their comeback wins.
DePue was led by Isaac Reyes with 21 points including 17 in the second half and Jose Raya‘s 14, of which 12 came in the second half.
Point guard Jesse Lopez had three points but had key assists and steals during the comeback run for the Little Giants.
“We run how Jesse runs,” said Klinefelter of his point guard’s value to his squad.
Serena was led by Cal Mason’s 20 points while Quinton Loesch added 18.
In the junior varsity game, Serena notched a come from behind win over DePue 45-41 despite 24 points from Ramon Reyes.
Pretty in pink: More than $500 was donated to Perry Memorial Hospital from the DePue students, staff and fans from T-shirt purchases and 50/50 raffles. In addition to the Pink Night, which sported awareness haircuts from DePue players, 37 DePue students participated in the halftime performance led by DePue cheerleaders and sponsor Brenda Salas.