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Tessa Faltinek is a freshman at Palatine High School this year who is involved in many activities and sports. She enjoys beings on the swim team and participating in marching band. In her free time, Faltinek...

Last second heroics help Palatine win 1st ever Super Sectional

Pirates celebrate the first Super Sectional victory in school history.

The Palatine Pirates boys basketball team have made themselves the talk of the town once again, dethroning the Warren Blue Devils by a score of 55-53. With Connor May’s winning basket in the final seconds, the Pirates earned a trip to the State Farm Center in Champaign for the first time in school history.

This was no easy task. They had to battle the Blue Devils for the second time this year. Palatine had previously lost in Gurnee 56-57 on Jan 27. 

“They came out red hot the first time we played them,” senior Tommy Elter said. “We knew this time that we needed to pick up our pressure and handle their pressure.”

To the Pirates’ fortune, this game was played at a neutral location – the NIU Convocation Center, home of the Huskies NCAA Division 1 Basketball teams.

Both teams started red hot in the 1st quarter from beyond the arc. Palatine finished the quarter shooting 66% from three, while the Blue Devils shot 50%. A Connor May buzzer beater propelled the Pirates to a 23-12 lead to finish the first.

The Blue Devils still had more to show. The second was filled with defensive success. Jaxson Davis, the freshman who has offers from Arizona State, Eastern Illinois, and the University of Illinois, had multiple steals in a row and converted them to layups to help his team claw back. Davis would finish the game with 6 steals.

Warren’s incredible two way gameplay was the key to a 16-8 second quarter domination, and all of a sudden both teams made their way to the locker room with only a one score game separating the two, 31-28 Palatine.

“Compared to when we played them the last time we were in a much better position,” said head coach Eric Millstone, whose team was down 12 at half to the Blue Devils in the previous meeting. “We had 16 minutes to go on a two point lead and we liked the spot that we were in.”

Palatine started with a 3rd quarter burst, and Warren’s struggle at the free throw stripe was only beginning. They didn’t make a single free throw in the third, and would finish the game shooting 37.5% from the free throw line, while Palatine shot a perfect 100%. 

“We’ve practiced free throws all week,” MSL West Player of the Year May said. “We just knew we needed to stay calm and collected at the line and it made a huge difference.”

The Pirates had a commanding 44-37 lead as the fourth quarter began in front of an attendance of 2,228. 

Warren started to crawl back into the game with an aggressive paint attack. They shot 50% in the 4th quarter and eventually got the game knotted up at 48 apiece, thanks to two huge free throws from Jaxson Davis, the only Blue Devil to have 2+ attempts and shoot above 25% from the line. 

Warren looked like they would grab their first lead of the entire matchup, but then Palatine began to bounce back. An eventual and-1 bucket from sophomore Darrin Dick would give Palatine a 53-48 as the curtain started to close on the fourth quarter. 

“We’ve had that play in our back pocket since the playoffs started.”

— Senior Tommy Elter

The young gun Jaxson Davis wasn’t finished. Warren would create a layup, and then Davis would steal the ball and take it down for an and-1. With the successful free throw, the game was back to its fourth tie of the night.

The only downside for Warren was that Palatine had 16 seconds and a super sectional to capture. 

Connor May would carry the ball upcourt and give it to Tommy Elter, who already had 6 assists on the night. 

“We’ve had that play in our back pocket since the playoffs started and Coach Millstone has said each week that we are not using it until we absolutely need it,” Elter said. “And we did just that, that just goes to show how great of a coach he really is.”

The pass was in the air and Connor May would cut to the hoop, grasping the pass from a sharp angle and got it to go in.

“Coach waited and knew when to call it,” May said. “We’ve practiced everyday so we were confident in the back cut and pass that led to the bucket.”

Davis tried a heave from beyond half court in the last second, but it just fell inches short. 

The Palatine Pirates are headed to the class 4A state semifinals for the first time in their lengthy program history.

Connor May led the team with 21 points, and all-conference Tony Balanganiyi dominated the paint with 19 points. Tommy Elter quarterbacked the offense with 7 rebounds and 7 assists as well.

This team for the history books will be playing at 2pm on Friday afternoon vs the Normal Community Ironmen (31-5), inside the State Farm Center located at the  University of Illinois campus. 

“It’s an honor and a privilege to coach these guys,” said Millstone. “I’m just thankful I get to be around these guys for another week.”

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About the Contributors
Luke Jorden
Luke Jorden, Reporter
Luke Jorden is a senior at Palatine High School. He is a play by play sports broadcaster in the broadcasting club here at PHS. Jorden also has jobs with two other sports franchises and a high school hockey network. He is very passionate about anything sports, whether watching or playing, as he enters his final year on the District hockey team and the lacrosse team here. Being a journalist is something Jorden enjoys because he can tell stories on paper in a way he can’t on video. He aspires to be a play by play announcer for a major team or network one day.
Siomara Valdez
Siomara Valdez, Sports & Photography Editor

Siomara “Alfred” Valdez is a senior at Palatine High School. Valdez is very passionate about photography as it is a hobby of theirs. Valdez went out of their comfort zone to take on new opportunities in photography becoming the color guard photographer for the season. Valdez is a big fan of the band Foo Fighters and wants to one day photograph at one of their concerts. They got recruited into Cutlass at Chipotle and went to the meetings in hopes to improve their photography. After high school, Valdez wants to pursue mass communications as their career and continue photojournalism at Winona State University.

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