Grayslake North senior Danny Mateling was not sure if he'd scored a crucial fourth-quarter basket as he was fouled in Tuesday night's Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball finale at crosstown rival Grayslake Central.
The floor officials weren't sure, either, about Mateling's shot after his drive into the lane and collision with Grayslake Central's Jack Spicer.
So, after a consultation at the scorer's table, it was confirmed Mateling's did score as he was fouled. He completed the 3-point play and a minute later clearly saw a big 3-pointer find the bottom of the net as the Knights (15-11, 5-7) pulled away to a 69-59 victory over the Rams (4-21, 2-10).
"Since it's a rivalry we knew it would be a tough game," Mateling said after he scored 10 of his 17 points in the final 5:17. "They play hard every single game they've come out this year, especially against us."
The Knights were able to pull out a season sweep even with senior A.J. Fish (24 points on 10-for-21 shooting, 6 rebounds) sitting for a 90-second stretch late in the fourth quarter with 4 fouls. Freshman Aidan Einloth had 11 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks and some key hustle plays, senior Nick Carmody had 6 assists and 5 rebounds and Anthony Winfield added 8 points and 6 rebounds off the bench.
"When it came down to it we got stops and we rebounded," said Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh.
Grayslake Central tied it at 47-47 when Matt Spalding hit his third 3 and Spicer drew a charge and then got a layup after junior Malcolm Reed (9 points, 7 rebounds) kept alive a miss.
"Spalding did a nice job of stepping in and knocking down some big shots," said Grayslake Central coach Brian Moe. "Malcolm and Jacob (Vargo) did nice job of defending A.J. and making him work, but their big three seniors (Fish, Carmody and Mateling) made plays."
Fish hit a pullup jumper and had a steal and layup to put the Knights ahead for good. Spicer scored off a miss and looked as if he might be in position to draw another charge when Mateling stormed into the lane. But the call, and eventually the basket, went Mateling's way on the 3-point play for a 54-49 lead at 5:17.
"To be honest, I didn't even see the ball go in," said Mateling, who was called for a charge on a similar play in the second quarter. "I threw the ball up and it went in. It was a prayer."
Grayslake Central answered with Malcolm Reed's layup and a baseline jumper by Danny Reed (12 points). But Carmody found Mateling in the left corner for a 3 and Fish's drive made it 59-53 with 3:21 left.
Fish went out with his fourth foul at 2:48 and Grayslake Central got within 3 points twice. But senior reserve Ben Smith hit a layup, Einloth had a drive and Mateling and Carmody combined on 6-for-7 free-throw shooting in the last 50 seconds.
"That's the second game against Grayslake Central where (Einloth) has had a huge night," Grunloh said.
"Aidan Einloth plays like a senior and it's awesome to see him step up and play as comfortably as any of us," Mateling said. "I'm glad everyone can play comfortably, especially when we've got our high scorer on the bench."
Grayslake Central showed it's getting more comfortable as well as it shot 50 percent (24-for-48) and committed only 2 of its 15 turnovers in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Joey Mudd (10 points) hit a 3 and had a 3-point play for a 38-34 lead in the third.
"It's really encouraging that we can take care of the ball," Mudd said. "All of the guys have finally gotten the confidence aspect of the game and we're kind of meshing now."