PEORIA — Peoria Manual needed overtime and a stop on the final possession, but held on for a 56-55 overtime win over St. Joseph in the IHSA boys basketball Class 3A third-place game Saturday afternoon at Carver Arena.
The Rams (26-5) found themselves down 16-11 after the first quarter, but started the second quarter on a 13-0 run as the game remained neck-and-neck for the rest of the contest.
Da'Monte Williams, an Illinois commit, and Romon Douglas-Watkins paced the Rams' offense with 12 points each while senior Devonte Keeton added nine points. Williams, the son of former Illinois star Frank Williams, also added nine rebounds and three assists as Illinois head coach John Groce was in attendance.
This is Peoria Manual's first time at state since placing second in Class 2A in 2010, and with a team full of juniors, the Rams will be one of the major favorites in Class 3A next season.
"We have the same goals this year as we do next year," Williams said. "We want to win conference, sectional then state."
St. Joseph (25-9) ends its season in fourth place in Class 3A as senior center Nick Rakocevic finished his final high school game with 26 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks and four steals. After finishing as Class 3A champions last season, Rakocevic was the only senior left on the St. Joseph roster and still led a team filled with underclassmen and inexperienced players back to Peoria.
Even though Rakocevic and St. Joseph weren't expected to make a major dent in the standings this season, the senior expected to make it back to Peoria.
"I told my coach that [we were going back to state] as soon as Marquise [Walker] came through the door," Rakocevic said. "I knew Jason [Towers] was going to be a big part of the team, Lavon [Thomas] was going to be back and all the pieces that we had. I believed in myself, I believed in my teammates and I told them every day that we were going to get down there."
Towers also added 13 points for the Chargers in the loss while freshman guard Marquise Walker finished with eight points.