DECATUR – MacArthur guards Amir and Armon Brummett didn't get any favors from their home court.
Both Brummetts missed by only inches on MacArthur's final possession and the Generals suffered another gut-wrenching 69-67 loss to crosstown rival Eisenhower on Tuesday night.
Amir's contested 3 first abruptly spun out of the hoop with only a few seconds to spare and then Armon's game-tying attempt near the paint ricocheted off the rim and fell to the floor at the buzzer.
MacArthur coach Ron Ingram couldn't complain.
“That was exactly what we drew up,” Ingram said of Amir's 3. “It's just a bad break it didn't go in.”
Eisenhower won the first meeting 94-91 in overtime on Jan. 13. At least the teams will meet again one last time in the playoffs.
Eisenhower and MacArthur will play again on Wednesday, March 1 in the Class 3A Taylorville Regional semifinal.
“I feel better about it now after losing tonight's game,” Ingram said. “We want to beat them and that would be the perfect game to beat them.”
In a heated and quite chaotic game that featured 11 lead changes, MacArthur's Zaryan Woodley drilled a 3 and tied up the game 67-67 with 44.4 seconds remaining.
Although Eisenhower's Stefon Jarrett missed two free throw attempts on the other end, the Panthers responded with a key defensive stop and quickly pushed the ball up the floor with under 25 seconds remaining.
Eisenhower's Stefon Jarrett sliced right through MacArthur's zone press and dumped the ball to a wide-open Quylan Young at the post for the game-winning basket with 12 seconds left.
“It just came down to execution at the end,” Eisenhower coach Rodney Walker said. “No real rhythm and nobody wanted to bow out. At the end of the day, the Panthers did exactly what we needed to do — stay gutsy and win the game.”
Young said he felt some nerves at the pivotal moment. He finished with 12 points.
“Coach (Walker) told us to spread out and I saw Jarrett going to the basket and I just cut to it,” Young said. “I knew he was going to pass to me and he made a good play to me and I got the game-winning bucket.
“I wasn't sure if I was going to make it or miss, but I had confidence and I went up and scored it.”
Eisenhower (20-7, 12-5 CS8) mostly stayed a step ahead in the second half after jumping out of the locker room on a 6-0 spurt to reclaim a 35-33 advantage in the third quarter.
The Panthers led by as many as 58-52 with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter, but the Generals (16-11, 10-7) turned up the pressure and briefly stole a 59-58 lead after Woodley provided a spark off the bench with a couple of steals and Armon started to finally connect from long range.
But Jarrett helped navigate Eisenhower through the adversity, often breaking MacArthur's press and finding open teammates for easy baskets. It turned out to be the difference in the end.
“He stays active,” Walker said of Jarrett, who finished with 10 points. “He may not score a lot of points on the night, but he keeps a lot of pressure on them. He keeps attacking and doing smart things that don't show up on the stat sheet.”
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Junior forward Yansyn Taylor has quickly turned into Eisenhower's most prolific scorer, even surpassing senior teammate Stephon Bobbitt.
Taylor started the game aggressively and posted a game-high 26 points.
Bobbitt eventually found his rhythm in the second half and finished 13 points.
That has spurred a seven-game winning streak for the Panthers.
“A year ago we would've lost the game,” Walker said. “So the guys are getting better. It's their 20th win and they haven't seen 20 wins since '07-08. That was a goal this year and we can check it off the bucket list.”
MacArthur struggled with fouls, particularly junior forward Adrian Williams.
He picked up four fouls in the first quarter, including a technical.
He returned in the third quarter but picked up another technical to foul out trailing 44-39. He came up with no points.
Teammate Keenan Ingram carried the Generals early but also got into foul trouble in the second half. He fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.
Ingram finished with 17 points.
Armon and Amir Brummett had 22 and 18 points, respectively.
Eisenhower feels good about beating its rival a second time in dramatic fashion.
Except they can't celebrate it too long with their playoff meeting looming next week.
“That's the game that really counts,” Taylor said.