Schneider drills buzzer beater to top Stevenson in sectional semis


Sophomore Ben Schneider goes up for the layup against Stevenson. (Photo by Bella Brouilette)

PJ O'Grady

The 20-11 Prospect Knights’ won a thrilling 46-44 contest against the 23-7 Stevenson Patriots to win the sectional semi-finals. 

The game was back and forth all night, until sophomore Ben Schneider hit the biggest shot of his life. With 6.4 seconds left in the game, down by 1 point, Schneider darted swiftly across the court and with a dramatic step back crossover he nailed a contested three at the buzzer to advance the Knights’. 

Prospect’s student section, The U which was large and full of life, went crazy and stormed the court once again to savor yet another sweet victory for the fabled ‘Knights. 

Conversely, while the Patriots’ had a significantly smaller fan base, junior Jack Dabbs on Stevenson started off the game with two consecutive baskets. Shortly after, about five minutes into the first, a layup from junior Cole Chapman and an and-one from senior Charlie Gilmer helped kick off the Knights’ offense. By the end of the quarter, Stevenson held a tight 8-7 lead.

In the second quarter, the Patriots’ offense was dynamic with a pair of made free throws, another three from Dabbs, and a couple more well-placed shots. However, a 6:29 layup put up by senior Alex Georgakas after a foul gave him a 3-point play, while a couple of three’s from Gilmer and Schneider helped the Knights’ capture an 18-17 score at halftime.

In the third quarter, Georgakas heated up, scoring 7 points in just over two minutes into the quarter helping Prospect get up 25-21. The quarter continued its offensive explosion as the two teams sparred for the lead. With four layups — an even split between the two teams — a Georgakas three, a Schneider 3, and four points from Stevenson junior Armand Burris the Knights’ led 35-29 at the end of the third quarter.

The last quarter was once again, a down to the wire finish. Dabbs continued his onslaught on the Knights’ by nailing a pair of free throws and then the next possession tying the game at 4:50 with a layup after a missed defensive rebound by the Knights’. 

The Knights’ seemed to have a comfortable  43-39 lead with 29 seconds left, but after a foul by junior Drew Terpins, sophomore Aidan Bardic made his free throws. Prospect still had a 2-point lead with 23 seconds in the quarter, however a botched cross the court inbound led to the Patriots’ gaining possession once again. After a timeout by Stevenson, senior David Sulnius drove to the hoop with 9 seconds on the clock; he pump faked, which drew a foul on Chapman while Sulnius made the and-one.

 Although Chapman had a cluster of 6 points in the middle of the fourth quarter, the outlooks on a win for Prospect grew dimmer. Immediately, frustrations and disappointments could be heard in the student section as the game just got tied up at 43 points a piece. Sulnius’ free throw was good as well after a suspenseful trip the ball took around the rim until it finally got in the hoop. 

Hope was not lost for the Knights’, however, as Schneider floated across the court, heroically, and sunk his aforementioned step-back three with nothing but net. 

According to Gerogakas, the guys have zero doubts when put in adversity’s way.

“We all kind of trust each other,” Georgakas said. “It’s kind of like that team bonding we were talking about earlier. It all translates into the game … and that’s what won us the game [against Palatine last Friday].”

That trust the team put into Schneider clearly won the Knights’ another big game.

Schneider had 11 points at the end, while Georgakas had 14 points, and Chapman had eight points. For Stevenson, Dabbs also had 14 points, and junior Christian Uremovich had eight points.

Unfortunately for Stevenson, the Patriots’ were sent packing, while the Knights’ will play on Friday at 7:00 PM in the sectional finals against the number one seed, Libertyville who are 28-5. This will be the first time Prospect has been in the sectional final since 1991. Even more notable, was the fact that the Knights’ started their season off with a 1-5 record. 

“I think that our strength is going to be to continue to learn and improve,” head coach Brad Rathe said in a foreshadowing interview on Dec. 5. “Just like get[ting] better playing with each other … what you do in November is not always indicative of what you do in February. So, continue to scout and improve a little bit each game.”