Curie eliminated from state playoffs; Cliff Alexander had 25 points
BY MICHAEL O’BRIEN Staff Reporter March 4, 2014 9:02PM
Cliif Alexander rest his head on a player after he fouls out. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times Media.
Updated: March 4, 2014 10:18PM
Curie senior Cliff Alexander slumped to the floor as the final buzzer sounded Tuesday at King. DuSable had pulled off a massive upset, knocking off the top-ranked Condors 88-85 in overtime in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
The DuSable crowd stormed the court in celebration and several television cameras headed over to capture Alexander’s reaction. Alexander’s parents, Latillia Alexander and Clifford Terry, threw their coats over his head to shield him from the cameras.
Alexander stood up and ran out of the gym, flanked by his parents with his head covered while television cameras followed.
It was a raw, emotional end to a legendary high school basketball career and the capper for a traumatic 12-day stretch for the entire Curie community.
Alexander finished with 25 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks, but fouled out with 27 seconds to play in regulation. Curie was already without starters Josh and Joseph Stamps, ruled ineligible by the Illinois High School Association on Monday.
That left it to sophomore Devin Gage.
“I knew I had to take over,” Gage said. “I’m in shock. I couldn’t do it by myself.”
Alexander declined to talk to the media after the game. The Condors found out they would be able to play in the state tournament on Monday, and that was after waiting a week to hear if their city title win would stand.
“When you are 16 and 17 years old and don’t know your fate, it lays in other peoples hands, it effects you,” Curie coach Mike Oliver said. “Mentally it broke me down and I’m 45 years old. You don’t want to do that to an 18-year-old kid.”
Dontrell Whitaker was the hero for DuSable. The forward scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. His two free throws with seven seconds to play in overtime sealed the win.
“I told myself I got this, no doubt,” Whitaker said.
Curie (0-26) led 58-48 after three quarters, but the Panthers heated up in the fourth. Their final five baskets in regulation were three-pointers.
“When a team is shooting the way they shot, you are in trouble,” Oliver said. “They were the better team tonight.”
Senior Isaac Bufford scored 20 for DuSable (11-11) and Prince Dukes added 19 off the bench.
Curie won the city title by beating Young in quadruple-overtime game on Feb. 21. But the Condors’ title and 24 regular-season wins were stripped by the CPS on Feb. 28 after an investigation revealed that seven players had been ineligible for the entire season.
Curie then spent the weekend waiting to hear from the IHSA if it would be allowed to play in the state tournament. The IHSA ruled the Condors were in, but three key players (the Stamps brothers and Malik Washington) were ineligible. It was too much for Curie to overcome, even against a team it had beaten twice in the regular season.
“It’s a sad situation for everyone,” said Oliver, who was suspended by the CPS on Friday but reinstated Monday night. “You have to take the bitter with the sweet. Adversity is going to come. Nothing like adversity, nothing like hurt. Sometimes you have to go through pain.’’