Chicago Elite Classic

Ljiljak 3 beats buzzer in Chicago Elite Classic thriller

December 4, 2015

Written by Frank Burlison

CHICAGO – The first night of the fourth Chicago Elite Classic couldn’t have ended in more spectacular fashion in the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion Friday.

With his Maine South team trailing Chicago Loyola Academy by two points, Jon Arenas was fouled while missing a potential tying shot with 4.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

Arenas swished the first team and everyone watching – and, probably, playing as well – had the “we’re going to overtime” feeling hit them.

Arenas’ second attempt, however, had other ideas.

Arenas missed the tying try but the ball was batted out of bands with officials ruling that it had come off a Loyola player’s hand.

So, after a timeout, Austin Derrick of Maine South was inbounding on the baseline under the Loyola bucket.

And he fired a pass to a surprisingly wide-open Milos Ljiljak, who turned the pass into victory via an oh-so-smooth jumper from behind the arc on the right wing that ripped through the net as a half-second or so before the buzzer sound.

So much for overtime:

Maine South 42, Loyola Academy 40.

Arenas led all scorers with 16 points as his team improved to 5-0 while Ljiljak added 10 points. Andre White Jr. was the only Loyola (4-2) player to score in double figures with 13 points.

The first two games played Friday night had nary the suspense provided by the finale.

In the opening contest, two programs from schools that reside in Oak Park hooked up and Fenwick took charge via a 12-0 spurt to close the second quarter and won eased up, 55-46, to also improved to 5-zip.

Junior guard Jacob Keller – hitting all seven of his shots from the field but just four of his eight free-throw attempts – scored a game-high 18 points for Fenwick while adding game-bests of nine rebounds and three assists with no turnovers in 31 minutes.

Six-foot-five junior Jared Scott had 16 points, five rebounds and two steals for River Forest.

In the second game, the team that had by far the longest trek to get to Chicago – the Monarchs of Mater Dei from Santa Ana in Southern California – handled Chicago Heights Marian Catholic without a lot of fuss or muss, 58-46, after leading by as many as 20 points in the third quarter in their action of the season.

Three-year starting center Michael Cage Jr. (who signed with the University of Oregon last month) scored 15 points with 10 rebounds and four assists for Mater Dei.

Junior left-handed forward Justice Sueing, a transfer from Hawaii who attended high school in Phoenix as a freshman, added 15 points with six rebounds and three steals for Coach Gary McKnight’s crew while junior swingman Matthew Weyand added 12 points with two of his team’s four 3-pointers.

Forward Austin Richie, with 11 points and five rebounds, was the only Marian Catholic player to score in double figures.

The first of six high school games tip off at 1 o’clock on Saturday afternoon in the Pavilion.

The complete schedule of Day II: 1 p.m., Elgin (IL) Larkin vs. East St. Louis (IL); 2:30, Washington, DC Gonzaga Prep vs. Riverside (IL) Brookside; 4, Akron (OH) St. Vincent-St. Mary vs. Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha; 5:30, Chicago Morgan Park vs. Evanston (IL); 7, St. Louis Chaminade vs. Lithonia (GA) Miller Grove; 8:30, Chicago Whitney Young vs. Chicago Simeon.

Tickets, priced at $15, are available on site.

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