Before Prospect boys basketball coach John Camardella was scheduled to receive the Village of Mount Prospect's Champion for Youth Award on Friday after his team's Mid-Suburban East game with Wheeling, Camardella's Knights were presenting him with an equally special award -- a share of another East division championship, for which the Knights own the tiebreaker.
The varsity game started at 6:30 p.m. rather than the standard 7:30 p.m. so that Camardella could attend the 2014 Mount Prospect Celestial Celebration to receive his award. By the time he had to leave, his Knights (12-8, 7-1) had captured a 61-58 victory over Wheeling, extending the Wildcats' losing streak to 8.
"The story was the third quarter," Camardella said.
Wheeling (8-14, 2-6) led 33-27 at halftime thanks to a 14-9 rebounding edge and an 8-point second quarter from 6-foot-7 sophomore Patrick Szpir (14 points).
Prospect hit the boards and tightened up defensively in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 19-10 and taking a 46-43 lead into the final quarter.
Kyle Formanski scored 8 of his 13 points in the third quarter, and Bobby Frasco added 7 of his game-high 16. Danny Thomas scored 13, and Kyle Beyak added 10 for the Knights.
"Thirteen and 7 (rebounds), the best game he's played," Camardella said. "And Max Cahill did a great job limiting (Jeremy) Stephani to 16. You don't stop him; you just try to limit him."
"My role is to make hustle plays, get rebounds, and do the little things," said Formanski.
Cahill also played his role according to script.
"My role all year has been to step up on defense and guard the other team's best player," Cahill said. "If I hold (Stephani) under 20, I've done my job."
"It's been a broken record," said Wheeling coach Anthony Como of yet another close call. "(Prospect) did a nice job coming out of halftime with a lot of energy.
"I'm proud of my guys," Como said. "They keep on battling."
Even with Prospect's second-half turnaround, the game wasn't decided until the final horn.
Beyak's free throws with 36 seconds left gave the Knights a 61-57 lead. Stephani split a pair of free throws with 9.8 seconds left, and the Wildcats regained the ball thanks to the possession arrow on a held ball with 6.9 seconds left.
Stephani's 3-point attempt bounced away as time expired.
Junior Ola Arogundade came off the bench to score 16 points for Wheeling.