SHABBONA – The DePue Little Giants captured their first regional championship in 28 years, defeating host Indian Creek 46-38 at Shabbona in 1A postseason play Friday.
The win breaks a regional championship dry spell for DePue dating back to 1989.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time in DePue,” DePue coach Charlie Klinefelter said. “It’s fantastic for DePue, fantastic for these kids. They’ve worked hard to get to where they’re at. DePue is a basketball town.”
The Little Giants (26-3) advance to the Somonauk Sectional to face Little Ten Conference champ Newark (25-4) Tuesday. That game was played after BCR press deadlines. For updates, visit www.bcrnews.com/sports or via Twitter @bcrsportsed and see Saturday’s BCR.
DePue started the game playing man defense, but Klinefelter said he switched his team out of it once they fell behind 10-2 in the first 4:03 of the game.
“We wanted to play a man to see if we could keep with them, and we found out we couldn’t,” Klinefelter said. “They were taking it to the basket, and we stopped one of their great shooters, (leading scorer Trevor Guerra). He’s tough, man. We held him in check and that was what we needed to do.
“When we went to that zone, my guys played tough defense. My guys haven’t been playing the greatest lately ... but I’ll tell you what, the kids came with a lot of heart tonight, came to the basket when we needed it, hit their shots. I wish we would have made our free throws down the stretch.”
The Timberwolves (24-6) were clinging to a 17-14 lead after Nolan Govig scored with 6:06 left in the first half, but the Little Giants scored 14 straight before the Timberwolves scored again on a Govig layup with 3:47 left in the third – their only points of the third quarter.
Indian Creek was held scoreless more than 10 minutes.
After falling down as much as 37-23 with 4:21 left, Indian Creek pulled to within 38-33 with 1:07 left on a 3-pointer by Kevin Jordal, but couldn’t get any closer.
Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz said while the Timberwolves did get some open looks at the basket – they shot 37.5 percent for the game – the DePue defense had a hand in forcing those misses.
“There’s a reason why they’re 26-3, there’s a reason why they’re one of the best teams in the state,” Piekarz said. “Give them credit. We just came up a little bit short.”
Indian Creek set the school record for wins in the season with 24, and while Piekarz said it doesn’t feel like much now, it will in the future.
“As they look back on this season they’re going to see all the really great things we did,” Piekarz said. “Everybody enjoyed practice, everybody enjoyed being at games, everybody wanted to be a part of this. That sometimes is even more important than how far you get in the playoffs.”
Govig, back next year for the Timberwolves, agreed.
“Seasons aren’t always judged by the win-loss column,” Govig said. “They’re judged by the passion and the fun you had with your teammates and the brothers you’ve become. I was blessed this season with these teammates.”
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