By Brian Thomas
Over winter break, the boy’s basketball team played in their annual Hardwood Classic tournament hosted by Wheeling High School. Prospect won their first two games convincingly and were in control all game, as they beat Niles North, 70-44 and Naperville Central, 62-43.
Senior Jack Redding said game control was key.
“That way, we can play at our tempo and make other teams play our game, which throws them off balance,” he said.
Prospect played Libertyville next and won 59-56. They were down early, as Libertyville went on a 13-0 run in the first quarter, and the Knights found themselves down 11. They came all the way back due to some great 3-point shooting from senior Joe LaTulip and good defense and team play in the second half. The win over Libertyville put Prospect in the championship game for the first time in 12 years.
“It feels great to be able to play in the championship game,” said Redding at the time. “It has been our goal along and now we are here. We’re really excited.”
They played Deerfield for the title in front of 1500 fans on Saturday night. The Knights battled hard but came up short and lost the game 61-44, taking second place in the tournament. The Knights had two players receive all tournament recognition, seniors Jack Redding and Joe LaTulip.
“I credit Deerfield,” said head coach John Camardella. “They executed and did everything that they needed to do to win.”
The Knights had trouble containing the Wisconsin recruit, senior Duje Dukan, who had a game-high 28 points. Dukan was also the high scorer of the tournament and the MVP of the tournament.
“We just could not stop him,” said Camardella. “We tried a lot of different things and nothing worked. He’s a heck of a player.”
Prospect’s offense also did not look like it had in the first three games of the tournament.
“It looked like we were out of sync,” said Camardella. “They were switching on the screens on defense and it threw us off offensively. We were never able to get into a good rhythm and it seemed like were on our heels for most of the game.”
“Our shots just weren’t dropping,” said LaTulip. “If we can’t get into a good rhythm offensively, it’s going to be hard to win the game. But Deerfield played good defense all game and I give them credit.”
Despite the loss, Camardella is proud of his team.
“I’m proud that they made it to the championship game,” said Camardella. “They had a chance to reach their goal and win the tournament, but they came up a little bit short. This is a good learning experience for us though and we learned a lot about our team. This only helps us down the road.”
LaTulip said that is was especially fun to play in a big game.
“The last two years we have disappointed in this tournament,” said LaTulip. “So it was nice to get to play in a big marquee game. It was a lot of fun.”
“We fought hard in every single game,” he added. “And for three and a half games we played to our full potential. But we realize that we are not going to be perfect all the time, so we will learn from this and be ready for the second half of the season coming up.”