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It was the hard part that looked relatively easy.
And it was the easy part that did in the Mundelein boys basketball team on Friday night.
The Mustangs were facing a tough road at halftime in the fourth round of their Thanksgiving tournament. They sat in the locker room trying to figure out a way to cut into the 16-point lead that Waukegan had built on them over the first 16 minutes.
But in the second half, Mundelein suddenly started hitting 3-pointers like they were gimme layups. The seven 3-pointers after halftime helped cut the Mustangs' deficit to a single point by the final minute of the fourth quarter.
But when the Mustangs had the chance to finally take the lead in the final 7.4 seconds, they missed a simple box out on an errant Waukegan free throw.
The Bulldogs, up just one point at the time, tracked down the rebound, shaved almost all of the remaining time off the clock, drew a foul and then closed out a 65-63 victory with one last free throw with 0.7 seconds remaining.
Waukegan moves to 3-1 on the season while Mundelein, which got a team-high 21 points from Cliff Dunigan, drops to 2-2.
"That box out at the end killed us," said Mundelein senior forward Sean O'Brien, who scored 19 points, including the basket in the final 10 seconds that cut the Waukegan lead to 64-63. "We have to be more focused and we have to be able to put a full game together.
"We did a really good job coming back. We really never had our heads down. A 16-point (deficit) is really nothing for us with the way we can shoot 3-pointers."
Mundelein hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter, including three in a row in the latter stages. Senior guard Dylan Delaquila hit two of those big long-range shots. He had a career-high four 3-pointers on the night and finished with 14 points.
"We're an all-around great team and we have players who can find each other and we play to our strengths," Delaquila said. "Being down doesn't faze us at all. We can come back and we were so close. It was just a miscommunication at the end (on the box out) that took it away."
It (the rebound) got taken away by Waukegan senior guard Quintin Davis. He missed the clutch free throw with 4 seconds remaining, but when he retrieved his own rebound, he cinched the game for the Bulldogs.
Davis didn't miss much else on the night. He finished with a team-high 21 points. Two of his teammates also finished in double-figures. Junior forward Jerome Davis had 19 points and senior guard Jordan Johnson added 14 points, including two 3-pointers.
"We panicked a little bit, but we fought through it," Davis said. "They (Mundelein) found a way to come back. We just didn't let them come all the way back."
Mundelein coach Dick Knar would have preferred not to have to come back in the first place. His team had a tough time getting shots to fall in the first half and taking care of the ball was a challenge. Before they knew it, the Mustangs had dug themselves a deep hole.
"I was disappointed because I thought we played real tentative in the first half against their pressure," Knar said. "I just told the guys at halftime to calm down and I think Cliff Dunigan was the one that got things going for us in the second half.
"He just settled down and really got himself going."
Dunigan scored 11 points in the third quarter. Like Delaquila, he was a part of the 3-point barrage in the second half. He canned a shot from downtown, as did O'Brien, Derek Parola and Quinn Pokora.
"They have good shooters and sometimes they were just catching and shooting before we could get there," Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw said of Mundelein. "But, on the bench, we weren't panicked because we know we're a good veteran team."
With just 16 seconds remaining, Mundelein senior guard Thomas Gandolfi went down under the basket with a knee injury. He had to be carried off the floor by a couple of teammates and was headed for the hospital after the game. The Mustangs are already thin at the guard spot as star senior Robert Knar is out until February. He blew out his knee in AAU ball over the summer.
North Chicago 83, Lakes 68: North Chicago got nearly 30 points from two different players in cruising by Lakes at the Mundelein Thanksgiving tournament.
JayQuan McCloud and Kurt Hall each scored 29 points as the Warhawks (4-0) took command early and boasted a 15-point lead at halftime. McCloud finished with four 3-pointers.
JaVairius Amos-Mays added 10 points for North Chicago.
Jake Kohler paced Lakes (2-2) with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Troy Swindle chipped in with 15 points for the Eagles.
Warren 58, Uplift 56: At Mundelein, Warren slipped by Uplift with a strong fourth quarter.
Four players finished with double-figures for the Blue Devils, who improve to 2-2.
Dre Von Hill led the way for Warren with 15 points, followed by Adrian Deere with 13 points, Eric Gillespie with 12 points and Shayne White with 10 points. Gillespie had three 3-pointers.
Barrington 45, Lake Forest Academy 33: Thanks to balanced scoring, Barrington was able to pull away from Lake Forest Academy at Mundelein.
The Broncos (2-2) got a team-high 12 points from Robby Vollman and 9 points apiece out of Raymond Tolentino, Austin Madrzyk and Zach Bart.