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East St. Louis rallies to claim first state title with overtime win over Chicago Bogan

East St. Louis rallies to claim first state title with overtime win over Chicago Bogan

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PEORIA, ILL. • The East St. Louis High boys basketball players broke every in-game and practice huddle this season with a chant of "chasing greatness."

They found it in the most dramatic fashion Saturday.

The Flyers rallied from a late fourth-quarter deficit to outlast Chicago Bogan 68-63 in overtime in the Class 3A championship game at Carver Arena.

East St. Louis (30-6) nailed down its first boys basketball state title by sticking to the team credo.

"It's something we really believe in in our hearts," said senior standout Terrence Hargrove Jr., who led the way with 32 points and 10 rebounds.

Added senior Richard Robinson, "For us, it's just the way we think, the way we play, the way we do things."

The Flyers did everything right at the perfect time to stun Bogan (30-4), which led for 34 minutes and 6 seconds of the tension-packed 36-minute affair.

East St. Louis trailed 51-44 with just under three minutes left in regulation before closing on a 9-2 run to send the game into an extra session.

Hargrove and his teammates fell behind early in overtime, then went on another 9-2 blitz over the last 2:04.

One good rally deserved another.

"That's what's great about this team, we never stop believing, we never give up," said the St. Louis University-bound Hargrove.

Robinson, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Cahokia High, turned in the biggest play of the game. He slammed down a missed free throw with 3 ticks left in the fourth quarter to add more time to the instant classic.

"I saw the ball come off and I just grabbed it," said Robinson, who recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 boards. "Everything happened so fast."

The 6-7 Hargrove was a two-way threat all game long. He hit on 13 of 24 shots from the floor. He blocked three shots and altered at least five others.

But the Flyers have proven to be far from a one-man show, especially in the postseason, junior Jashawn Anderson added 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals. He sealed the outcome with an old fashioned 3-point play late in overtime.

"All year long, my guys have found a way," East St. Louis coach Mark Chambers said. "Today, they did it again."

Hargrove started the first rally with a conventional 3-point play to get his team to within 51-47. He followed with a skyhook from the lane to set the stage for Robinson's baseline jumper that knotted things 51-51.

Bogan went in front on a stick-back by Rashaun Agee, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds.

That set the stage for Robinson's eye-popping slam.

"We always tell our kids the little things win games and the little things lose games," Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin said. "We make that play — then it's game over."

Hargrove also kicked-start the overtime comeback with a pair of foul shots. Robinson hit one free throw and Anderson followed with two to give the Flyers their first lead of the game 62-61 with 1:07 remaining.

Hargrove added another hook and Robinson hit one of two foul shots prior to the game-clinching play by Anderson.

"Everyone on this team brings something to the table," Hargrove said. "It's been like that all year, we just stay together, don't panic and believe that everything will eventually work out."

Chambers helped bring a state title to the "City of Champions" by winning the players over with his keen basketball sense.

He became the Flyers fifth coach in three seasons midway during last year's campaign.

"When he first came in, we didn't want to buy in," Anderson said. "We thought he was just another coach."

But Chambers quickly changed the culture around the team. He got the players to believe they had a chance to do something special this season.

It finally happened.

"This is the best feeling in the world," Hargrove said. "I'm going to remember this forever."

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