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Fate throws the kitchen sink at Tre Dowdell, but he’s now back in sync for Evergreen Park. ‘I’m feeling good.’

Vincent D. Johnson/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Injuries and an illness have kept senior guard Tre Dowdell a bit out of sync as he figures things out in his first season at Evergreen Park.

But Dowdell, a transfer from Brother Rice, is healthy now and ready to go.

“I’m feeling good,” Dowdell said. “I’m just starting to get my wind back. My movement, my shot and my feel for the game are coming back.”

Dowdell showed that all Friday night. He scored 23 points, including the winning free throws with nine seconds left, as visiting Evergreen Park pulled out a 58-57 win over Hillcrest in a South Suburban Conference crossover.

Keshaun Vaval added 10 points for the Mustangs (18-8, 8-3 SSC Red). Nolan Sexton scored nine points, while Billy Buchanan contributed seven points and nine rebounds.

Maximilian Carmicle had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead Hillcrest (14-11, 8-3 SSC Blue). Jovohn Ratliff and Jamari Thomas added 12 points apiece. JayQuan Ratliff chipped in with six points and seven rebounds.

Dowdell hit a pair of free throws with 1:07 remaining to give Evergreen Park a 56-55 lead. After the Hawks took the edge on Carmicle’s basket with 18 seconds left, Dowdell attacked the rim and drew a foul with nine seconds to go.

Dowdell calmly sank both free throws and Hillcrest’s shot in the final seconds was off the mark.

“Just go up, have confidence and knock it in,” Dowdell said of the clutch free throws. “That’s it.”

The result keeps Evergreen Park in the SSC Red race, although the Mustangs still trail Eisenhower and Oak Lawn by two games. Hillcrest fell a game behind Lemont in the SSC Blue.

“I see the pieces coming together,” Hillcrest coach Don Houston said. “We just have to be tough in clutch situations.”

That’s exactly what Dowdell was. The Mustangs know how much better they are when he’s in the lineup.

“Tre helps with everything — scoring, rebounding, defense,” Buchanan said. “He’s our best player in all three phases. I can’t tell you the last time Evergreen Park’s beat Hillcrest, so it’s amazing.

“It’s a good confidence booster moving forward.”

Dowdell missed some games with an illness early in the season. He was then injured during the Big Dipper and made a comeback a couple weeks ago before being sidelined again.

“I strained my Achilles, missed a few games, probably came back a bit too early and re-tweaked it,” Dowdell said. “This was my second game back.”

Each quarter of the nip-and-tuck game ended with a margin of four points or less. The Mustangs gritted out the win by slowing down Hillcrest inside.

“We knew we could outscore them,” Buchanan said. “It was just a matter of keeping them off the glass. Every year, they’re gigantic.”

Dowdell, meanwhile, said in spite of it being his first season with a new team, his relationships with his teammates have made his transitions from sidelined to being back in the lineup easier.

“I would say because all of us have great friendships and we talk a lot, that helps a lot,” Dowdell said. “I feel like based on my skill set, I can come out and do what I need to do at any given time.”

Evergreen Park coach Jim Sexton sees that as well.

“They’ve always been able to play together well,” he said. “The big thing is Tre’s missed spurts, so when he comes back, it’s the conditioning really. We tired him out (Friday night).

“Once he gets that conditioning and that full strength going, he’s a huge horse for us.”

Dowdell acknowledged that, indeed, he was worn out by the time the game ended.

“I’m ready for bed,” he said.