MAHOMET – If there was ever a good time to catch the flu bug, Neil Wright picked the right week.
With Mahomet-Seymour one game behind Bloomington Central Catholic in the loss column in the Corn Belt Conference race, the Bulldogs needed a win against Prairie Central to stay in contention for the title.
Wright, Mahomet-Seymour's senior guard, sat out of scrimmages this week with the flu and spent his time at the line, shooting free throws. Although he said he still wasn't confident from the line, the practice seemed to pay off.
Wright was perfect from the line, draining all seven of his attempts from the charity stripe, hitting four crucial ones down the stretch to seal a 53-49 Mahomet-Seymour win.
"This win was really important," Mahomet-Seymour coach Chad Benedict said. "We really can't lose if we want to have a chance at the conference championship, and Neil really came through down the stretch."
Mahomet-Seymour scored 10 straight points late in the game largely due to the Bulldogs' bench. Junior guard Nick Jachino and senior forward Jason Seaman came off the bench to score eight points, force two turnovers and grab three rebounds with under four minutes to play.
"I thought that Jachino and the rest of our bench did a very nice job tonight," Benedict said. "Nick stretched the defense with his shooting, and it opened things up inside a little."
Jachino was the game's top scorer, shooting 60 percent from the field for 19 points. After falling behind 10 points late in the fourth quarter, Prairie Central nearly came all the way back.
"I was a little nervous," Jachino said. "These guys have been hot lately. They have some real good three-point shooters and hit some big shots when it counted. They're playing good ball right now."
Prairie Central's Phillip Short hit his fourth three-pointer to cut Mahomet-Seymour's lead to two with 13.3 seconds left, but Wright was fouled in the corner and hit both ends of a one-and-one to seal the win.
"Neil played with a lot of heart tonight," Benedict said. "He showed a lot of senior leadership and made good decisions with the basketball. When the game is close, he's one of the guys that we can put on the line."
Eureka 71, Rantoul 62. Matt Davis had 24 points and nine rebounds, but the Eagles surrendered a four-point fourth-quarter lead on the road.