Boys Basketball: Rebels rally for big win over Elmwood ParkRidgewood senior Andy Mazurczak goes up for a three-pointer during a varsity basketball game against Elmwood Park at Ridgewood High School in Norridge on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 17, 2012 11:38PM
Leave it to a junior to bring his team to life on Senior Night.
Ridgewood’s Igor Cirkovic connected on three three-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Rebels overcome a deficit and go on to beat Metro Suburban Conference rival Elmwood Park 61-51 Friday night in Norridge.
The victory kept Ridgewood (18-6, 10-1) in the hunt for a share of the conference title with a victory next Friday at Riverside-Brookfield, which is undefeated in the Metro Suburban. Elmwood Park (12-12, 3-8) almost spoiled things for the Rebels as the Tigers took a 39-36 advantage into the final period.
With the Tigers ahead 41-38 at the 7 minute, 15 second mark of the fourth, Cirkovic came off the bench and drilled his first trey to tie the score. A few minutes later, he canned back-to-back shots from three-point land in a 30-second span to give Ridgewood some breathing room at 52-45. From there, the Rebels went 9-for-12 from the free throw line to secure the 10-point victory.
Still, Ridgewood head coach Chris Mroz said he was not thrilled with his team’s play.
“Elmwood Park outplayed us tonight, give them credit,” Mroz said. “We didn’t come out with any energy and I’m pretty disappointed with our effort tonight.”
Cirkovic, however, was happy he was able to help his team when it needed someone to step up.
“The coach put me on the court for a reason and my teammates trusted me enough to get me the ball, so I knew I had to make it,” Cirkovic said. “After I hit that first one, I got more confidence and the others just felt good and went in.”
“We were in a stretch where we missed a few shots, and he really came up big off the bench,” said senior teammate Andy Mazurczak, who poured in a game-high 22 points and hauled down seven rebounds. “They left him open and he’s a really good shooter, so when he hit those three threes it was huge because everyone else on the team was in a shooting slump. It really gave us some momentum at the right time.”
Elmwood Park trailed 25-23 at halftime, but senior Anthony Santiago (8 points) and Julian Molina (14 points, 8 rebounds) ignited the Tigers’ offense with some big three-pointers of their own.
After Ridgewood had taken a 36-31 lead after a 6-0 run midway through the third quarter, Molina swished his first trey of the game after Santiago had put in his first points of the game from downtown and freshman Joe Uvelli (9 points) popped in his third three of the game earlier in the quarter. After an offensive rebound and basket by David Baratta (8 points, 7 rebounds), Santiago made his second straight trey to put the Tigers up 39-36.
It was the Rebels’ turn to hit from long range in the final eight minutes as senior Pete Mroz, who quietly tallied 14 points, hit a three-pointer to open the fourth before Cirkovic went to work.
“We shut down the kids we needed to, but No. 32 (Cirkovic) hit three massive shots for them and that was huge,” Elmwood Park coach Mike Wasielewski said. “I liked our defense in the first half, but our offense came out shaky and started out very timid and I thought that set us back a little but. But then some shots went down and we regained our confidence. As the score stayed closer longer we gained more confidence and they felt less confident. That played to our advantage until their kid hit those big shots.”
Senior Alex Gomez contributed eight points and three rebounds for the Tigers, while Ridgewood junior Adam Krozel scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds. Sophomore Anthony Mroz added five points, all from the line in the fourth quarter, to go along with seven rebounds.