Boys Basketball: Free throws push Schaumburg by Oak ParkSCHAUMBURG Wednesday Mar 7 2012
Oak Park & River Forest Schaumburg for the Class 4A sectional semifinal at Schaumburg High School. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 7, 2012 10:30PM
Schaumburg made 14-of-16 free throws in the final two minutes to hold off Oak Park-River Forest for a 64-60 victory Wednesday night in the Class 4A Schaumburg Sectional semifinal.
Schaumburg is back in familiar territory, reaching a Class 4A sectional final for the third consecutive year.
To get there, the Saxons relied on a strong man-to-man defense, missed opportunities by Oak Park-River Forest and clutch free-throw shooting.
No. 21 and third-seeded Schaumburg won 64-60 in its own sectional semifinal Wednesday night. The Saxons (24-5) will play No. 2 and top-seeded Proviso East (29-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the sectional final.
The Huskies went six minutes without a basket in the fourth quarter, but remained in the game behind Bradley-bound Ka’Darryl Bell’s 12 of 22 points scored in the fourth quarter. Bell ended the shooting drought with a three-pointer and added another three baskets down the stretch. The Huskies (20-7) pulled to within 62-60 with seven seconds remaining on Gabe Levin’s tip-in, but Kyle Bolger ended the scoring with a pair of free throws with 5.1 seconds to go.
“We’ve been in these situations before,” Schaumburg coach Matt Walsh said. “The kids have played in a lot of big games. We believe in ourselves and we believe in each other.”
Schaumburg shot 21-of-27 at the line in the game compared to OPRF’s 6-of-8. Levin, one of the Huskies’ leading scorers, finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but scored his only basket in the second half on that late tip-in.
The Saxons took a 56-46 lead during that six-minute drought without a basket for the Huskies.
“Bell was tremendous in the fourth,” OPRF coach Matt Maloney said. “When we were within two; having him not give up. He had a refuse to lose attitude.”
Schaumburg has lost in each of its last two previous sectional final appearances to Niles North and Waukegan, but will play the undefeated Pirates for the first time this season. The Saxons jumped out to a 17-5 lead to open the game against OPRF in a matchup between conference champions from the Mid-Suburban League West and the West Suburban Silver.
Christian Spaniary led the Saxons with 20 points, 6-of-6 shooting at the line, while Michael Mallett added 17 points (5-of-5 free throws) and Kyle Bolger had 11 points.
Schaumburg’s next opponent, Proviso East, won the West Suburban Gold and beat OPRF 63-48 to end the regular season.
The Huskies rallied in the second quarter by scoring 11 consecutive points to pull within 17-16.
“This is a very good team. They are extremely talented,” Walsh said. “We didn’t do anything special [in the fourth quarter]. We played man-to-man like we’ve played all year.”
OPRF led 5-2 in turnovers in the final quarter, many of them leading to Schaumburg’s 17-4 run while the Huskies’ only points came on free throws by Levin and Tacourrus Mattox.
“It’s hard to tell what happened there,” Maloney said. “There were a lot of guys out there that wanted to win.”
Bell, Levin and Alex Nesnidal played their final games for the Huskies, who 10-13 last season and lost in their playoff opener.
“When I was a sophomore on the varsity, we didn’t have that good of a team,” Bell said. “Last year, we did not have a winning record. We had a winning team that did great this year, by far. It was a real plus. It was really fun.”