The margin for error is small against Proviso East's boys basketball team.
By the end of the first quarter on Wednesday, Glenbard East's margin became microscopic.
Despite the Rams' best efforts to rally, Proviso East controlled virtually the entire way in a 63-50 victory over Glenbard East in the Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinals.
The top-seeded Pirates (27-3), who never looked back after racing to a 22-8 first-quarter lead, advance to Friday's sectional final to face the winner of Thursday's game between No. 2 York and No. 3 Oak Park.
"I felt like we played with them, but they played one of their best games," said Rams guard Tahron Harvey, who ended his three years on varsity by scoring 13 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. "We just didn't roll over. We could have rolled over easily, but we kept fighting. And I love my team for that."
A game of spurts went well in Proviso East's favor after No. 4 Glenbard East (20-7) took an early 6-2 lead. A 20-2 Proviso East run followed as the Rams missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the first quarter and the Pirates hit 3 of 4 attempts.
Glenbard East regrouped in the second quarter behind a pair of 3-pointers by JaRon Hall and Mike Kjeldsen. The Rams narrowed the deficit to 29-27 on a Kjeldsen 3 before the Pirates' Sterling Brown nailed his own 3-pointer as the half ended.
"We let them get their momentum up," said Brown, who led the Pirates with 17 points and 13 rebounds. "We could have knocked them out and made the game much easier on ourselves."
Proviso East began the second half with a 9-1 run to build its lead to 41-28. The Rams stayed within striking distance, and a 6-0 fourth-quarter run made it 50-43 with three minutes left.
The Pirates, however, answered with Brown's only basket of the second half. Then they kept their distance behind an 8-0 burst, including six straight free throws in the final minute.
"I thought that first quarter really set the tone, but Glenbard East is a good team," said Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce. "You've got to give Glenbard East a lot of credit. They played hard and made it tough for us."
Four players scored for Glenbard East. Kjeldsen finished with 12 points, Hall had 10 and Marvin Grant-Clark scored 8 points.
Parrish McCullum matched Brown's 17 points for the Pirates. Jevon Carter added 13 points.
"They shot the ball very well in the first quarter, and they're very tough to beat when they do that," said Glenbard East coach Scott Miller. "It's not for lack of effort by our guys. I'm just so proud of our kids. This has been one of the best groups I've ever had at Glenbard East as far as playing together.
"Obviously, we're disappointed," Miller said. "We thought we could come in here and do something. We didn't shoot the ball quite as well, and you've got to give them some credit for that. Their quickness really took us out of what we wanted to do."
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