The Glenbard East Rams have been struggling all season. With only one senior in the starting lineup, including a freshman, the Rams almost got their first DuPage Valley Conference boys basketball win this season, falling short to Wheaton North 48-46 Friday in Lombard.
JaRon Hall scored a game-high 20 points for the Rams and Matt Biegalski had 13 for the Falcons.
"(Hall) did a great job of not forcing things," said Rams coach Scott Miller. "He was taking what he was given and he's been really good for us all year."
Hall scored 13 points in the first half and freshman starter Michael Finley had 8 as the Rams jumped out to a 29-22 lead going into halftime.
"I give Glenbard East a lot of credit," said Falcons coach Dave Brackmann. "We knew they were going to come out and play really hard. And they did. In the first half they got us majorly on our heels and I thought they were the aggressor."
The Falcons came out for the second half with six straight points to cut the Rams' lead to 29-28. But the persistent Falcons, led by Biegalski's six points in the third quarter, again cut the Rams lead.
With 1:17 left in the game, Nick Jordan was fouled. Jordan sank the two free throws to give the Falcons their first lead of the game, 45-44.
"I give our guys a lot of credit the way they battled back in the second half," Brackmann said. "We made some plays down the stretch. It was a great basketball game between two teams fighting really hard and I'm glad we came out on top."
Hall hit a basket with 40 seconds left to give the Rams the lead 46-45. But he fouled Bryan Knoedler on the next scoring play. Knoedler made the free throw for the three-point play to seal the win for the Falcons, 48-46.
"The turnovers at the end and the mental lapses did us in," Hall said. "And we got to work on our free throws. It was on ourselves this time. We'll just forget about the past and focus on the next game."
"We are a young but we are getting better," Miller said. "Our young kids are not playing like freshman and sophomores, and that's what you want to see at this point in the season. I thought defensively, we didn't come up on a few rebounds when we needed them. Our free throws in the first half -- 0 of 9 -- those come back to haunt you. We've got to make those in a tight game."