Boys Basketball: John Solari lifts Maine South past EvanstonPark Ridge- John Solari of Maine South passes the ball against ETHS at the top of the key. Boys basketball game: The Wildkits of Evanston travel to battle the Hawks of Maine South. | Joe Cyganowski ~ For Sun Times Media
Updated: January 20, 2012 9:38PM
In his first two seasons at Maine South, John Solari wasn’t asked to do too much.
The 6-foot-4 junior now carries most of the load for the Hawks, and his broad shoulders are strong enough to hold up to the task.
Going into Friday’s game against Evanston, Solari, who also plays receiver for Maine South, was averaging team highs in points (14.5) and rebounds (5-plus). In the new year, he’s averaging nearly 17 a game, with a career-high 24 coming Jan. 9 against York.
“He has that mentality of ‘It’s my time,’” said Maine South coach Tony Lavorato. “He’s the man now. He’s a big part of this team.”
Once again, Solari did his part, scoring a game-best 17 points in the 53-49 win to even the Hawks (12-9) at 3-3 in the CSL South. Evanston (13-6) dropped to 3-3 in league play.
Tied 24-all at the half after seven lead changes, Maine South took control with five points to start the third quarter. Matt Lahey hit two big three-pointers in the quarter, including one at the buzzer to help the Hawks to a 39-31 lead.
Maine South held a two-possession advantage for much of the fourth quarter and were ahead by as many as nine.
With the assistance of Maine South’s missed free throws, Evanston made a push in the final couple of minutes, getting to three on Josh Irving’s layup with 17 seconds to play.
But Solari knocked down one free with 12.5 to clinch the victory that avenged an earlier 36-35 loss to the Wildkits. Solari finished 9-for-11 from the line and is shooting 85 percentage from the stripe for the season.
“He’s really developed his game inside of 10 feet,” Lavorato said of the undersized forward. “He’s very crafty and also a good passer.”
Lahey followed Solari with 15 points. Irving scored a team-best 15 for Evanston, which played with starter Leonard Garron. The 6-4 post was on a football recruiting visit to North Dakota State.