Nearly two hours apart, Alexandria scored the game’s first nine points and then the final four to upend Elwood.
Alex sped to that 9-0 lead in the first four minutes on Layton Carroll’s three-pointer and then his bank shot from out front and Landon Breese’s putback and his driving score.
Elwood recovered to trail just 13-6 by quarter’s end, then took its first lead at 16-15 on Jordan Arehart’s three-pointer midway through the second quarter.
Alex led by as many as five, 27-22, before Jared Bourff’slate basket cut the deficit to 27-24 at halftime.
The Tigers warmed up in the third quarter and pulled away to lead by 13, 39-26, at the 3:25 mark of the third quarter. Carroll and Breese fueled that 12-2 surge with back-to-back three-pointers. Also hitting jumpers were Blaize Kelly, Evan Hodges and Braden Warren.
The Panthers stayed calm and responded with an 11-0 run of their own to trail just 39-37.
Austin Dauenauer’s free throws launched the rally, and then Bourff had a three-point play. Arehart buried consecutive three-pointers from deep in the left corner.
The Tigers led by six twice early in the final period, 47-41 and 50-44, but Bryce Graves and Bourff nailed three-pointers to keep Elwood alive.
Elwood finally regained the lead 53-52 with 3:19 to play on Arehart’s very deep three-pointer.
Warren’s free throws put the Tigers back ahead, but Elwood’s Stephen Fletcher got his only field goal of the game on a pass from Bourff for a 55-54 lead with 2:23 to play.
About a minute later, Fletcher hit 1-of-2 free throws for a 56-54 score with 1:36 showing on the clock.
Alex then turned the ball over, with Dakin Updegraff making a steal, and Arehart was fouled with 47 seconds remaining.
He missed both shots, capping Elwood’s 4-for-10 free throw misery down the stretch. The Panthers were just 11-for-24 for the game.
At the other end, Carroll drove the left baselineand scored for a 56-56 tie with 36 seconds to go.
Elwood called its final timeout with :21 on the clock, then from the right side of the court, trie to lob the ball inside to Bennett on the left block. Alex’s Breese deflected the ball to Kelly and the Tigers called timeout with :17 showing.
Breese handled the ball until driving inside and being fouled by Bennett with :04 on the clock.
The Tiger senior who hade made only 3-of-6 freebies early in the quarter on two fouls, plus a technical foul – calmly sank both shots this time for the 58-56 final.
Elwood hurried upcourt, but was whistled for traveling, and Alex inbounded the ball to finish the game.
“This was a game where we wanted to set a standard in the conference because Elwood was 2-0 in conference play,” said Tiger Coach Chad Wetz. “We wanted to show Elwood and everybody else that we could plays with the leaders in the conference. We have set our own destiny for the rest of the month now because we are 2-1 in the conference and tied for the CIC lead.”
“The guys are not quitting like they did early in the season on games, and now we play 32 minute games as hard as we can,” added Wetz. “The boys went out tonight and showed they are fully capable of making a run at the conference title, and now we will just continue to build off of the effort they showed tonight.”