Miles Casey saved the most memorable moments of his high school basketball career for the end.
The Saint Ignatius College Prep senior from Riverside scored his team’s final five points, all in the last minute, as the Wolfpack held off Simeon 61-59 to win the third place game in the IHSA Class 3A state finals on March 11 evening at the State Farm Arena on the campus of the University of Illinois.
“If you told my younger self that your final five points of your life playing competitive basketball are going at the University of Illinois, beating one of the most storied programs in the entire state, I would have told you you were lying,” Casey said. “It was incredible.”
Casey, who scored six points in the game, hit a layup with about 30 seconds left in the game to put Ignatius up 58-55.
“No one saw me, so when I was in the corner I kind of just ran to the basket and luckily Richard [Barron] saw me and I was able to get the easy layup to help us seal that win,” Casey said.
Then Casey grabbed a rebound and hit three of four free throws in the final 15.8 seconds to seal the win for the Wolfpack (24-13).
Casey also had a strong game in the Wolfpack’s 50-39 semifinal loss to eventual state champion Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin when he came off the bench to score seven points, second most for the Wolfpack.
Casey, who does not plan on playing college basketball, said that the state tournament was a great way to end his basketball career.
“It was an experience that I’ll never forget and I couldn’t be more happy with how it ended,” he said. “Obviously, we wish we won state but, at the end of the day, the memories that I have with my teammates will last me forever.”
Casey didn’t play basketball last year, sitting out the abbreviated spring season.
“I lost that love [for the game] junior year and I didn’t play,” Casey said. “That time was pretty relaxing and it was pretty eye-opening just to see what life was life outside of basketball.”
But Casey also realized that he missed basketball and the competition.
“I kind of got tired of not having a competitive sport to play,” Casey said. “I’m a big competitor, so I always need something to compete in.”
Casey, a 6-foot guard, started for the Wolfpack for the most of the season. He averaged scoring just over three points per game but was a steady ball handler and floor presence for the Wolfpack.
After hurting his left ankle in late January and missing three games, Casey spent the rest of the season as the Wolfpack’s sixth man off the bench.
“Whether I start or come off the bench, I try to give my team an energy boost,” Casey said.
Casey, who attended Blythe Park School and L.J. Hauser Junior High School, was part of an undefeated Hauser eighth-grade basketball team four years ago with future Riverside-Brookfield High School standouts John Paul Hanley and Brady Vaia. But when it came time to go to high school, Casey decided to follow his older brother Aidan to St. Ignatius.
“It was really hard for me to make the decision to leave all my best friends because I’d known them for as long as I could remember and it hurt to go to school without them,” Casey said. “I wanted to get a change of culture, I wanted to try something new. … I didn’t know too many people; it was a fresh start for me and it was an opportunity to meet a lot of new people which is something I love to do.”
LTHS’ Sullivan 9th at state 3-point shootout
Lyons Township High School senior guard Aidan Sullivan made 7 of 15 shots to tie for ninth among 16 qualifiers at the IHSA Class 4A Three-Point Showdown preliminaries on March 12 in Champaign.
Sullivan needed nine baskets to force a shoot-off to advance to the four-player Class 4A finals.