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INA, Ill. - Dawson Verhines wouldn't trade Wednesday's one-bucket night for anything.
With 18.4 seconds on the clock and his team down 67-66, the sophomore guard from Woodlawn hit a three-pointer from the left corner that rocked Waugh Gymnasium and punched the clock on the visiting Parkland College Cobras. It was his only basket of the night. But it was the biggest basket of the night.
Parkland did have one last chance. Now down 69-67, the Cobras went for the win as 6-7 forward Cedric Smith (Gary, Ind.) threw up an off-balance shot from long range. It fell short and Smith managed to scoop up a long rebound. This time, he drove to the hole for the tie. Waiting on the low post was Verhines' brother, 6-7 forward Bronson Verhines (Woodlawn), who blocked Smith's shot, securing the Warriors' eighth win of the season.
While the Verhines brothers stole the show at the end, there were a number of big plays that put Rend Lake in a position to win. Late in the game, Trice Whaley (Jeffersonville, Ind.) made all of his free-throws after being fouled on a three-pointer. Sophomore Jesse Smith (Campbell Hill) made his two free-throws in the super bonus and sophomore Noel Allen (Guttenburg, N.J.) made his free-throw on an and-one play in the paint. And freshman guard Cortez Macklin (Louisville) went 6-6 from the line - two of those coming at a crucial point in the game to put his team within one point with 1:36 left on the clock. Macklin led all scorers with 20 Wednesday night.
Parkland dominated the first half. The Warriors pulled within one (24-25) before letting the Cobras snake away and head into halftime up 36-26. But Rend Lake never gave up. It got some big defensive stops down the stretch and rebounded better in the second half - little things that ended up making a big difference in a close game.
The Warriors went 12-18 from the line. Whaley's three free-throws were his only points, as were Smith's two. Bronson Verhines finished with 14 points while Jeril Taylor (Louisville) scored 10, Corey Ayala (Metropolis) got two points, Allen had eight, Montez Buford (Louisville) had one and big man Montez Williams (East St. Louis) had six.
The Cobras were led in scoring by sophomore Dominique Walls with 18. Smith finished with five. Shane Seniour had 10, Mark Gilchrese had seven, Dalten Temples had one, Anthony Woods scored 13, Nate Tidwell had two, Lance Magee had five and Ian Randolph, a product of Mount Vernon Township High School, had six. Randolph is the younger brother of former Warrior E.J. Randolph, also a graduate of MVTHS.
The win closes the 2012 side of this season for the Warriors. The team is now 8-1 overall, 1-1 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference, and 3-0 against NJCAA Region XXIV opponents. Rend Lake will picks things back up in 2013 with a conference home game Jan. 7 against SWIC. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. For all things athletic at The Lake, visit RLC online at www.rlc.edu/warriors.