Lake Park spent the entire regular season trying to grind out victories.
Why should the playoffs be any different?
It was another day of pulling teeth for the Lancers, who held off Leyden 65-59 in the Class 4A Leyden regional quarterfinals Monday in Franklin Park.
With the victory No. 14 Lake Park (15-14) -- which led for good starting midway through the first quarter -- advances to Tuesday's semifinals to face No. 3 Oak Park (20-6).
"Wins obviously haven't been easy to come by in the second half of the season for us," said Lancers senior guard Sean Moore, who scored a game-high 18 points. "We've had a lot of close games, we just haven't made enough plays at the end. It was enough tonight."
Lake Park forced 8 of No. 18 Leyden's 22 turnovers in the first quarter and seized control of the game by bolting on a 14-0 run to build a 20-6 lead.
Leyden (11-16) made several valiant attempts at a comeback, but time and again turnovers proved to be the Eagles' downfall.
They came as close as 6 points away six times in the fourth quarter. Lake Park answered every time.
"We didn't handle pressure very well at all," said Leyden coach Bill Heisler. "You've got to be ready to play 32 minutes and it took us a good quarter to get going. When you spot a quarter to a solid team like that, it's tough."
Trailing 48-41 early in the fourth quarter, Leyden suffered a big loss when Nick Best, who scored 14 points, fouled out with 5:43 left. The Eagles still stayed close, but it was an uphill battle.
Michael Karas came off the bench to tally 17 points for Lake Park. Aaron Stocks, who scored 16 points, and Marcos Herrera, who scored 13, combined for six of Leyden's eight 3-pointers.
"We played hard as a group, but now we've got to start playing more disciplined and mature," said Lake Park coach Josh Virostko. "Leyden took advantage of that, and that's why it was a ballgame. Hopefully, we learn from it for tomorrow."
West Chicago 64, Prosser 56:
West Chicago senior John Konchar scored 38 points and grabbed 20 rebounds as the No. 11 Wildcats advanced to the Class 4A Leyden regional semifinals with Monday's 64-56 victory over No. 22 Prosser in Franklin Park.
With their first playoff win since 2007 in the bag, West Chicago (17-10) seeks a Tuesday upset against No. 6 Glenbard North (20-5) for a spot in the regional final.
"We ended the regular season strong, beating St. Charles North and Waubonsie," Konchar said. "Just carrying it over into the postseason and playing hard."
West Chicago blitzed Prosser early with a 20-8 first-quarter run. Several times it appeared the Wildcats might break the game open, but Prosser slowly closed in during the third quarter -- a frame that ended with a clutch 3-pointer at the horn by West Chicago's Alex Mitchell.
A 3-pointer by Trevon Boyce and another bucket by Markiece Linzy shrank Prosser's deficit to 48-46 two minutes into the fourth quarter. Konchar, however, scored his team's final 8 points, including 6-of-7 free-throw shooting, to seal the win.
"We weathered their storm and came out on the top side," said West Chicago coach Bill Recchia. "Everyone steps up on this basketball team. John is obviously the marquee player, but every single player on this team contributes to the success we've had this year."
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