During Friday’s game, Aurora Christian senior point guard Drew Meyers kept hitting one big shot after another.
So, after a tense Metro Suburban Blue first-place Riverside-Brookfield game went to the last seconds, it was fitting that the ball ended up in Meyers’ hot hand in the closing seconds.
And it was no surprise that Meyers made the game winner, with an acrobatic three-pointer with 5.4 seconds left to take Aurora Christian to an improbable 74-70 win over Riverside-Brookfield.
Meyers scored a game-high 27 points, with his three-pointer off the Eagles’ bench the exclamation mark on a thrilling comeback victory. With the Bulldogs under the error limit, Meyers was fouled seconds before his eventual winner. When the Eagles entered the ball, Meyers expected another foul, standing up and hanging on for a short second longer, burying a three-pointer and adding a free throw to complete the four-point game.
“I had the ball and had the guy behind me and just made the shot,” Meyers said. “I thought the defender was coming, so I just shot him. If I missed him I knew I would get three free throws. That was the best shot of my career, especially against a Top 20 team.”
“I didn’t think I was going to miss that shot. I wanted to call the game, and that’s what happened.”
The Eagles (14-4, 5-2) defeated the highly regarded Bulldogs (14-3, 6-1) on their home floor by burying 13 3-pointers, including four from Meyers. Senior guard Danny New hit three 3s for 17 points and McCade Weber added three 3s for 9 points. Calvin Washington III drank two threes for six points, while Trey Beebe rounded out the Eagles’ barrage of three-pointers with one trey.
“We just started making a few shots, but (RB) hit so many shots early in the game,” said Aurora Christian coach Dan Beebe. “They’re a great shooting team. We started chipping and didn’t give them that many open cans. That was a great high school basketball game.
“Drew played smart basketball. He took that last shot, knowing they were going to try and trick him. He’s a smart kid who tried his very best to get to this point. It was a great team win.”
Meyers’ shot shocked the crowd, especially as the Eagles looked listless in the first half. The Bulldogs were on the cusp of a stellar win, building a 16-point lead late in the second quarter on a 19-point JP Hanley three-pointer.
“There was something different about the energy of this game, and we had a great week of training and we just knew we could pull it off,” Meyers said. “I thought we were ready to play.”
The Bulldogs came out with scorching nets, hitting three-pointers, scoring in the transition and Joevonn McCottry (21 points) had two dunks within minutes of each other in the second quarter.
Nothing seemed to move in the direction of the Eagles and everything pointed to a blowout loss, making the defeat even more troubling for the Bulldogs.
“I knew from the jump it was going to be a tough game,” McCottry said. “I just tried to stay focused the whole game. We have to play a full game and we’ll get there. We knew Meyers could shoot. We had to do better by not giving him space.”
The Bulldogs hurt themselves with three straight turnovers to open the fourth quarter and finished with six turnovers in the quarter, allowing the Eagles to build a 68-62 lead with 2:19 to go. McCottry almost saved the win by scoring a 3-pointer to put the game at 68 with 59 ticks left. After New scored a basket, McCottry rebalanced the game with a hard-nosed basket with 16 seconds left to mount Meyers’ late-game heroism.
“The first half was great because we got stops and great transition baskets,” said Riverside-Brookfield coach Mike Reingruber. “When you stop getting stops, those transitional baskets disappear, but they made some tough shots. We need to lock in better, but give them credit. We knew (Meyers) was a very good shooter and he plays with confidence. He made a great shot.”