A sterling fourth-quarter defensive effort lifted Prospect's boys basketball team to a Mid-Suburban East victory Friday night at Rolling Meadows.
The Knights won 46-36, and as a matter of fact Prospect guard Tim Lussenhopp said that stopping the opposition was uppermost in the mind of he and his teammates in the days leading up to the game against the Mustangs.
"Coach (Brad) Rathe, our assistant coach, is our defensive coordinator," said the junior, "and he's been preaching in practice all week that we had to pick up our defensive pressure. Tonight we came out and responded -- we knew we had to do whatever it takes to get a win."
Knights coach John Camardella, for one, was quick to point out that Lussenhopp had quite a bit to do with the victory.
"I thought Tim's energy off the bench gave us a great boost tonight," said Camardella. "He was basically responsible for that run we had in the third quarter when we took the lead. In one sequence he hit a layup, blocked a shot on the defensive end, then came down and got an assist on a 3 that really opened things up for us.
"Jon Raupp (a senior forward) also did a great job off the bench for us tonight. Meadows was pretty much imposing their will on us for most of the game. We made some adjustments in the fourth quarter, and although we didn't shoot the ball well, we did what we had to do to win."
Meadows opened up a quick 6-0 lead in the first quarter, and held the advantage until a floater in the lane from Prospect senior Matt Szuba gave the visitors a 18-17 advantage in the second quarter.
But the Mustangs quickly grabbed the lead back, and when Justin Thompson made a layup Meadows was on top 22-18.
"Meadows was doing a great job (at that point)," said Camardella, "getting us to play at their tempo."
The Mustangs still led midway through the third quarter but the Knights, who had been cold from the 3-point line, got back-to-back 3s from David Swedura and Frankie Mack to grab a 31-26 lead.
A momentum-boosting layup in traffic at the third-quarter buzzer from Mack saw Prospect maintain the advantage. And then the Knights' "D" clamped down in the final eight minutes.
Two straight 3-pointers from Knights senior guard Grant Whitebloom gave Prospect (6-3, 2-1) some breathing room, and their stingy defensive effort allowed Meadows only 3 fourth-quarter points until the final minute of the game.
Free throws from Mack and Swedura helped Prospect keep a double-digit lead, and all the Mustangs could manage was a late field goal from senior forward Liam Brigham.
Mack scored a game high 17 points, while Swedura and Whitebloom tallied 8 apiece and Grant Zellmer had a game-high 6 rebounds.
For the Mustangs (2-6, 1-2), Brigham and Gio Carrillo each scored 12.
"We played an excellent game through three quarters," said Meadows coach Kevin Katovich, "but we just had too many miscues at the end.
"You've got to give a lot of credit for that to Prospect. They took it up a notch or two and took us out of our game. It wasn't so much what we didn't do, it was more what they did to stop us."