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Wild Wednesday, frustrating Friday

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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So last Wednesday, I was in Tinley Park watching Stagg’s offense go Stagg-nent against Oswego East for the first half in the Class 4A Andrew Regional boys basketball semifinals.

While coach John Daniels took his team to the locker room for a talking to, I ramped up the handy-dandy IPhone to see what our other teams in the area were doing.

We had three Class 4A teams still alive and one Class 3A team still going.

The phone didn’t have good news.

Sixth-seeded Marist was losing to 12th-seeded St. Rita at the Marian Catholic.

Ninth-seeded Brother Rice was getting trounced by eighth-seed host T.F. North.

St. Laurence’s Class 3A ping-pong match at King saw the Vikings losing to the host Jaguars by one at the time.

And, looking up at the Andrew scoreboard and the news was not much better. Oswego East had a 26-19 lead over the Chargers.

At that point, I wondered if I was going to have Friday night off or if I should maybe plan to watch Providence – a team that we don’t cover primarily but a school that has local students and athletes – since they had shocked Joliet Catholic earlier in the tournament.

Oh, and if those results panned out, it would have marked two years in a row that the area would have been shut out of having someone even make it to the regional final. Last year, the area went 0-for-10.

For the most part, however, things sorted themselves out on what turned out to be a wild Wednesday.

Marist kept inching closer to St. Rita, but the Mustangs put an exclamation point on its frustrating season by hanging on to beat the RedHawks, 62-56 in Chicago Heights. So the RedHawks were gone.

But in front of my eyeballs, Stagg mounted a nice comeback in the last 16 minutes of play. Not content to get beat in the semis, John Contant and Josh Sterma put on a scoring show and the Chargers scored 19 points in the third quarter to take a 38-34 lead and rang up 29 more points in the fourth to win, 67-57.

Over in the city, St. Laurence was able to pull away for a 62-51 royal win over King.

And in Calumet City, Brother Rice, which was trailing 40-23 at one point, pulled off the wildest finish of the night when Josh Niego buried a 3-point basket with a  couple of clicks on the clock for a 49-48 victory over the hosts.

Three out of four teams were still alive.

Not bad, especially considering where things stood when I checked things out at halftime.

And with Chicago Christian breaking the two-year skid of an area team not winning a regional title with its Class 2A Illiana Christian Regional championship on Feb. 26, I had some hopes one of these bigger-school teams was going to pull off an upset.

But then came Friday.

Frustrating Friday.

Oh, our teams did some teasing.

At Calumet City, Brother Rice got out to a 9-0 lead and clung to a 20-18 halftime advantage over state and national power Simeon.

Stagg roared out of the gate in Tinley Park to grab a 14-3 lead over Oswego.

And in the city, St. Laurence jumped out to an 11-6 lead.

Things were looking pretty good for a little while, but reality set in.

Brother Rice lost its scoring ability in the second half in a 44-28 loss. Niego got so much attention for his heroic 3-pointer against T.F. North that Wolverines coach Robert Smith put 6-foot-7 longarm defender Ben Coupet on him most of the night and the junior didn’t see the ball much and finished with three points.

Stagg couldn’t maintain its scalding start and dropped a 66-52 decision to Oswego.

And while St. Laurence was thrilled to earn its first winning season since 2007, it suffered an 88-54 setback to Bogan.  

The area is making some progress. Last season, we had just one team with a winning record – Marist – and two teams with even records – Chicago Christian and Richards.

This year, Chicago Christian, Brother Rice, Marist, Stagg and St. Laurence finished with winning records while Richards was at .500.

Chicago Christian’s big regional win was great but the Knights lost a Clifton Central Sectional woulda-coulda-shoulda three-point game to Reed-Custer, which lost a woulda-coulda-shoulda one-point game to Aurora Christian.

Here is hoping the area can take a bigger step forward in 2016-17.

When the regional championships are played, I would like nothing more than for the area to have a fantastic Friday instead of a frustrating Friday.