Neuqua basketball player, Connor Davis, scores game winning shot


Jason Verdin

Chicago Bulls player Denzel Valentine watches the Neuqua game with a reaction that speaks for the whole crowd. Photo courtesy of Jason Verdin.

Abigail McArthur-Self, Editor-in-Chief

Last Friday, Feb. 7, the Neuqua Boys Varsity Basketball team played Waubonsie. Before the game, the team honored Coach Todd Sutton and congratulated him for his 600th victory as coach. 

The game was intense right from the start. I am by no means an avid basketball fan — I was at the game to support the team as a member of the Neuqua Valley Pep Band — but even with my limited knowledge, I could tell it was going to be a good game. 

Throughout the game, the teams kept the score close, with one team pulling ahead only to have the other team catch up almost immediately. The first half of the game sped by. In the second half, the clock stopped more often, but the competition sped up. Both the number of fouls and time-outs increased. I wasn’t counting,  but judging just by the soreness of my arms (from doing spirit-fingers for each free-throw) and my face (from playing during time-outs), there were quite a few of each. 

Going into the end of the game, the score was still close, with Neuqua trailing slightly. If I remember correctly, the score was 42 to 48, though I can’t claim that as an exact fact. There were only a few minutes left on the clock in the last quarter, and our teacher had just let us know we should text our parents if we needed rides. Then, Neuqua managed to tie up the score; Waubonsie scored again, and Neuqua followed. Now the score was tied, 50 to 50, with about twenty seconds left on the clock. 

From what I could tell, the Wildcats were stalling, trying to keep Waubonsie from scoring so they could push the game into overtime. It didn’t work. Waubonsie got the ball, and scored going up 52 to 50, and for a moment, it looked like the clock had run out. The Waubonsie student section flooded down the stands. 

But the Wildcats weren’t done. Neuqua had called a time-out, and there were actually 1.8 seconds left on the clock. It didn’t seem like much, but when the Neuqua players came back, they were ready. It was their ball. 

According to the Naperville Sun, it was Mark Gronowski who rifled it in from out of bounds, and Connor Davis who caught the pass. Davis dribbled once, turned around and heaved up the final shot. It was a hail-mary. It felt like the entire Neuqua crowd — which had been abuzz only moments before — was holding its breath. The buzzer went off, and the ball swished through the net. 

I wasn’t sure if it counted until the students and parents around me erupted in cheers, but the shot was so impressive, I was already cheering anyway. 

It was amazing. After a game full of suspense, Neuqua had won thanks to an incredible play. The players did a great job through the whole game, and they really pulled it off there at the end. I felt a little bad for the Waubonsie fans who had started celebrating just 1.8 seconds too early, but it was amazing to watch the Neuqua fans flood the court, cheering for the team while we played a few extra songs for the night to help them celebrate. 

Gold Rush and the Wildcat fans brought their energy, and the team absolutely gave it their all. Congratulations to the Neuqua Boys Varsity Basketball team for their victory. It was definitely a game to remember.