Robert Knar's promise to himself that he would "be back playing with my boys" motivated him to get back on the basketball court his senior year, when conventional wisdom said the thought, while well intended, was absurd.
So it was fitting that, after months of grueling rehab, the kid who has proved skeptics wrong his whole basketball career exited the court after setting Mundelein's school scoring record and was greeted by a line of high fives from "his boys."
And when Knar walked off Wauconda's basketball court for good with 3:18 left in Wednesday night's North Suburban Conference crossover and his team up 27 points, after scoring a game-high 22 points in an eventual 84-57 victory, his dad intercepted him.
Mundelein coach Dick Knar hugged his baby boy tightly for several seconds, kissed him on the side of the head and told him he loved him.
"I was about to cry," Robert Knar said with a chuckle. "But I had to control my emotions."
"I just told him, 'Dude, the career that you had I can only dream about,' " Dick Knar said. "I told him, 'You scored 1,900 points in three years. And it wasn't as a sophomore, junior and senior. You did it as a freshman, sophomore and junior. So all this stuff now is like gravy."
Besides Knar, who sank six 3-pointers, Mundelein (13-12) got monster games from Chino Ebube and Sean O'Brien in a snapping a four-game losing streak, which was the Mustangs' longest since the 2009-10 season. Ebube finished with 21 points, including 4 dunks, and 11 rebounds. O'Brien, who missed Mundelein's last two games with what Dick Knar called an upper-respiratory infection, dished out an eye-popping 17 assists, while also scoring 11 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and coming up with 5 steals.
Cliff Dunigan added 15 points, sinking 3 of the Mustangs' 12 3-pointers.
"Chino was jumping out the gym," said O'Brien, who twice lobbed passes to Ebube for rim-rocking dunks. "He was getting open underneath their zone, so I was just looking for him. And then our shooters were on fire. Rob was on fire. So it made my assists easy. I was just passing the ball, and they were hitting their shots."
Knar underwent knee surgery Aug. 16 to repair his left ACL and lateral meniscus. Just as he was determined to prove wrong those who doubted he could earn a Division I scholarship, he was set on making a quick recovery from his knee reconstruction. The Northern Iowa recruit entered the game against Wauconda (12-13) trailing school scoring leader Kyle Kessel (1,920 points) by 3 points. Knar scored three seconds into the game, sinking a driving layup after Ebube won the jump ball and quickly fed O'Brien, who zipped a quick pass to Knar. Knar then missed a trio of three-point tries.
The record breaker came seven seconds into the second quarter, as Knar took a pass from O'Brien and drained a right-wing 3. While Knar hustled back on defense, his dad turned around, spotted his wife, Theresa, in the stands and smiled.
Once Robert Knar hit his record-breaking shot, Mundelein got rolling. O'Brien fed Dunigan for a layup and then Ebube for an alley-oop bucket. Ricky Sidlowski (8 points, 5 rebounds) answered for Wauconda, but then O'Brien dished to Knar for another 3.
The Mustangs outscored the Bulldogs 23-15 in the quarter and led 45-33.
"We started moving the ball a little bit and then you could see we started relaxing," Dick Knar said. "I think it's been 4-5 games since we've relaxed and played. When we made mistakes, we didn't panic."
Austin Swenson (team-high 19 points) tried to keep Wauconda close, scoring 10 points in the opening half and hitting 3 shots in the third quarter. But the Bulldogs trailed 63-45 heading into the fourth.
Kodey Thomas added 15 points for Wauconda.
"We tried to do our best to switch up with zone and man, but it ended up not working," Thomas said. "They got what they wanted."
The game was Mundelein's fourth in six games. It's been maybe more emotionally draining than it has been physically for Robert Knar.
"I feel good (physically), so far," Robert Knar said. "Actually, the right knee is starting to hurt a little just because I'm favoring it. But the left one feels great."
Knar has 1,939 points heading into Friday's game at Stevenson.
"I'm really happy for him after everything he's gone through," O'Brien said. "It's really awesome that he broke the record. I'm glad my teammate owns the record. That's cool."