Aaron Scully's desire to always be prepared served him well Saturday.
The East Peoria junior's two free throws with 6.1 seconds left, sandwiched around a timeout, put the Raiders over the top in a 54-52 Mid-Illini Conference boys basketball win over Morton.
The victory not only snapped a nine-game East Peoria (2-13, 1-6) losing skid, but also ended the program's 22-game drought in league play.
"He comes in every day and prepares," EPCHS head coach Matt Wright said of Scully, who registered his only two points after getting fouled near the Raider bench.
East Peoria's Sean Mulhern had a career-high 22 points, 17 of which came in the second and fourth quarters. He made four 3-pointers.
The win at Allison Gymnasium was a reward for the effort the boys have put in throughout the season. The Raiders pulled into a seventh-place M-I tie with the Potters.
"Everyone works hard and competes every day in practice and we just got it done," said Mulhern, who was 6-of-10 from the field.
Karson Buckley and Mulhern had 10 points apiece in the first quarter as the rivals played to a 10-10 tie. Buckley's buzzer-beating shot ended a four-point Morton (3-14, 1-6) push.
Buckley was 4-of-7 from the floor and sank three treys to tally 13 points.
The Potters opened up a 14-10 lead in the second period before five straight points by Mulhern.
Mitch Gnehm put East Peoria back ahead, 17-16, on a lay-up off a terrific pass. Mulhern then drilled a 3 at the 2:06 mark.
With the Raiders clinging to a one-point edge late in the first half, Gnehm made the team's fourth triple.
Two Buckley free throws with 16.1 seconds left created a 26-20 margin at the break.
At halftime, EPCHS 1976 graduate Bill Solomon was inducted into the Athletic Booster Club Hall of Fame.
In the third quarter, a Kieran Buckley traditional three-point play, followed by a Benett Crim bucket, manufactured East Peoria's biggest advantage at 31-22.
The Potters shot 14 free throws in the period, reaching the one-and-bonus 5:43 into the second half. They went 23-of-35 on the night. The hosts attempted 26 foul shots.
"We talk about working through adversity," said Wright of a game that featured constant stoppages.
After Morton clawed within 33-31 with 1:57 remaining in the third, Karson Buckley canned a 3.
Karson Buckley also started the fourth quarter with a trey. Mulhern's long-range bomb 41 seconds later upped the Raider surplus to 42-35.
With the clock winding down below three minutes and the Potters trailing only 44-42, Mulhern swished another 3.
"It was just a good high school basketball game to watch," Wright said. "I was pleased with our effort and intensity."
Isaac Stephens twice made 2-of-2 free throws in the last minute of the fourth period as Morton drew within 52-50. He had 12 of his 13 points in the second half.
Page 2 of 2 - The Potters then forced a turnover and scored on a lay-up with 20.7 seconds left to knot the game.
East Peoria inbounded the ball with 9.9 seconds to go and Scully was set up with his opportunity after being fouled a long way from the hoop.
"Everyone played their role and stepped up when we needed it," Mulhern said.
The Raiders defended well on the final Morton attempt, which was made after the guests advanced the ball past halfcourt and used a timeout at :03.9. They forced an off-balance Potter shot that did not come close.
Wright called the win a "complete and total team effort."
East Peoria overcame having three players foul out.
"We did a good job being calm through some of that," said Wright.
Three Morton players were in double figures, led by Jake Morsch's 14 points.
East Peoria's previous conference win, on Feb. 18, 2011, came against visiting Dunlap as Joe Kelch and Corey Crotz combined for 41 points.