Boys' season ends short of second straight regional title

Photo courtesy of Tafadzwa Usayiwevu
Photo courtesy of Tafadzwa Usayiwevu

By Brian Thomas
Sports Editor
The boys’ basketball team went for their second consecutive regional title Friday night at Glenbrook South, against New Trier. Unfortunately, the boys came up short and they lost the game, 61-55.
The boys’ came out hot and ready to play in the first quarter.  They hit four three pointers.  Sophomore Mike LaTulip hit two, while seniors Jack Redding and Joe LaTulip each hit one.  They ended the first quarter with a three point lead, 14-11.
Thanks to the efforts of seniors Jake Suckow and Nsenzi Salasini, the Knights maintained the lead through the end of the half, finishing 27-24 despite New Trier’s 7-0 run at the start of the quarter.
To start the third quarter, Mike hit another three that gave the Knights a six point lead.  New Trier came right back though, and answered with back-to-back threes to tie the game at 30, with 6 minutes left in the third.
To close the quarter, New Trier went on an 8-0 run and they led at the end of the third quarter, 40-34.  Prospect only scored seven points in the third and New Trier capitalized on it. New Trier outscored the boys’ 16-7 in that quarter.
“Our biggest problem tonight was in the third quarter,” head coach John Camardella said.  “We only had seven points which can’t happen, but they made a lot of adjustments for the second half and they started switching on screens.”
To start the fourth quarter, Joe hit two threes to bring the Knights within two after a New Trier basket made the score 42-40.  New Trier then hit a three of their own, but Redding answered with another three and the Knights were down two, 45-43, with 6:00 left in the fourth.
New Trier then opened up the game and went on a 6-0 run to give them an eight point lead, 51-43 with 3:07 left.  Joe hit his fourth three of the game to cut lead in half and make the score 51-46.
After two New Trier free throws made the score 55-48 with 1:02 left, Mike hit his fifth three of the game to bring the Knights within four. But Prospect couldn’t make the deficit any smaller.
It was an extremely competitive game.  The lead went back and forth and there were 22 lead changes in the game, until New Trier took the lead for good in the third quarter with 2:44 left.
The key to the game for the Knights was their three-point shooting, hitting 11 total.
Mike was the Knights leading scorer with 19.  Joe had 16, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter, and Redding and Salasini each finished with eight a piece.
On defense, the Knights really needed to rebound better.
“We lost on the boards and that hurt us,” Camardella said.  “We gave a great effort on the boards.  The effort was absolutely there, but stats don’t lie.”
“We tried hard on the boards,” Joe said.  “They were big and hard to box out. We needed to do a better job of limiting their second chance points.”
New Trier was too hot in the fourth and went 8-8 from the free throw line down the stretch.  Senior Alex Rossi, was quiet for most of the game, but then made his presence felt in the fourth quarter.  He scored 11 of his 19 in the fourth quarter alone.
“Rossi took over down the stretch for them,” Camardella said.  “That’s what division 1 players do and he played great.”
New Trier got contributions from a lot of guys.  Rossi was the leading scorer with 19.  John Hurley had 15 and Fred Heldring had 12.
“Offensively they are a very balanced team,” Camardella said.  “They have a great high-low game that is very hard to stop.”
The Knights finished their season with a record of 17-10.  They were the MSL East champions for the third consecutive year and they came up just short of their second consecutive regional title.
“We had a good season,” Camardella said.  “We went through a lull in the middle of the year, but we had some good last few games.  I’m very proud of the seniors and they left a huge mark on this program.”
“We have goals going into the season,” Joe said.  “Every goal we set for ourselves this year, we got to or achieved.  It was great that we got here and that we achieved our goals.”