The championship game of the 42nd and final Mohawk Classic was everything a basketball fan could have wanted, although Lincolnwood fans probably could have done without the last 15 seconds or so.
In a defensive showcase, the Nokomis Redskins won their 27th Mohawk Classic title in 34 attempts, beating the Lancers of Lincolnwood 31-30.
For the better part of 36 minutes, the game belonged to Nokomis, who led for all but about five seconds. Lincolnwood's lone lead came with less than 20 seconds to go in the game, when Will Jenkins hit a three from the right corner to make it 30-29 in the Lancers favor.
Jenkins' three capped a spectacular fourth quarter comeback for the Lancers, who trailed by ten with 7:03 left in the game. After not being able to hit water if they fell out of a boat for three quarters, the Lincolnwood shooters started to find their range.
The Lancers hit four threes in the fourth quarter, one more than they had hit in the previous three, where they were held to just 16 points on three threes, a two and five free throws.
Jenkins' three, his second of the quarter and third of the game, was supposed to be the dagger, but Nokomis' Jake Johnson didn't get the message. Nokomis got the ball in quick to Evan Herpstreith, who hit Johnson streaking down the middle of the floor.
A quick dribble and a highly contested layup later and Nokomis was back on top, 31-30, before the Lancer fans had even stopped cheering their go-ahead basket.
Lincolnwood Coach Matt Millburg called a timeout to set up one last play with 10.3 seconds, which turned into the second to last play after Jenkins' three point attempt just missed and was knocked out of bounds by Nokomis with 1.4 seconds left.
Senior Sam Herman would get the ball for the Lancers and drove to the baseline, putting up a 15-foot jumper over the outstretched hands of Johnson and teammate Kendall Knodle. The shot looked good in the air, but hit the side of the rim, with the horn sounding before the Lancers could get a putback attempt.
The win was Nokomis' 115th at the Morrisonville tournament, a nice round number to go out on as the event transitions into the Mohawk Classic Shootout next season. It was only fitting that the team that won more Classic titles than all other teams combined win the final championship, doing so in dramatic fashion against a foe that they had seen all too many times in Morrisonville.
Carter Sabol would lead Nokomis with 17 points, earning co-MVP honors for his performance throughout. Teammate Alex Tosetti, who missed the game due to injury, would also make the all-tournament team.
Johnson would finish with five points, none bigger than his final two, while Evan Herpstreith and Seth Johnson added four each and Kendall Knodle finished with one.
Will Jenkins led Lincolnwood with nine points, followed by Shawn Goebel with seven. Goebel, who attends Morrisonville, shared MVP honors with Sabol.
Braxton Schmedeke, another Mohawk-turned-Lancer, added six points, followed by Cole Sidwell and Sam Herman with three and Evan Hopper with two. Herman would earn all-tournament recognition as well.
The game wasn't only the last one at the Mohawk Classic, but it was also most likely the final time that Lincolnwood had a chance to defeat the master, Steve Kimbro. With the two rivals destined for different super-sectional complexes, let alone regional destinations, the Lancers and Redskins would have to make the state tournament before meeting again in Kimbro's final year.
Even with the loss, Lincolnwood's 62nd in 71 games to Kimbro, it would be hard for Lancers fans to describe the game as anything short of what it was... a classic.
January 29 at Morrisonville
Nokomis 13 7 4 7 31
Lincolnwood 5 9 2 14 30
Nokomis (31) - Carter Sabol 17, Jake Johnson 5, Evan Herpstreith 4, Seth Johnson 4, Kendall Knodle 1. Totals: 11 9-14 31.
Lincolnwood (30) - Will Jenkins 9, Shawn Goebel 7, Braxton Schmedeke 6, Sam Herman 3, Cole Sidwell 3, Evan Hopper 2. Totals: 9 5-8 30.
Three-point field goals: Nokomis 0; Lincolnwood 7 (Jenkins 3, Schmedeke 2, Goebel 1, Sidwell 1).
Records: Nokomis (13-8); Lincolnwood (14-9).
42nd Mohawk Classic
at Morrisonville High School
Monday, January 13
• Nokomis 65, Mulberry Grove 23
• Lincolnwood 48, Edinburg 16
Tuesday, January 14 (JV/V)
• Nokomis 56, Edinburg 26
• Lincolnwood 57, Carlinville 46
Thursday, January 16
• Carlinville 56, Edinburg 31
• Lincolnwood 58, Mulberry Grove 44
Saturday, January 18
• Mulberry Grove 73, Edinburg 72
• Nokomis 48, Carlinville 38
Wednesday, January 22
• Carlinville 49, Mulberry Grove 46
Wednesday, January 29
• Nokomis 31, Lincolnwood 30
Records: Nokomis (4-0); Lincolnwood (3-1), 3. Carlinville (2-2), 4. Mulberry Grove (1-3), 5. Edinburg (0-4).
All-Tournament: Michael Byots, Carlinville; Will Lefever, Edinburg; Kaleb Scoggins, Mulberry Grove; Sam Herman, Lincolnwood; Alex Tosetti, Nokomis. Co-MVPs: Shawn Goebel, Lincolnwood; Carter Sabol, Nokomis