For five straight possessions in the second quarter, Rolling Meadows had a chance to take an unlikely lead over Prospect.
The Knights, playing on their home floor, had cruised to an early 9-point advantage over the Mustangs on Tuesday in Class 4A regional semifinal play.
Meadows stormed back midway through the second stanza, and with their defense forcing turnover after turnover in a 14-14 game, they kept shooting to take the upper hand.
But the key shots wouldn't fall, and Prospect went on a run to take an edge they wouldn't relinquish.
Led by the plucky play of reserve Grant Whitebloom and 27 points from Frankie Mack, the Knights won 63-53 in the semifinals of their own regional at Jean Walker Field House in Mount Prospect.
It was Whitebloom who led the Prospect charge to regain control.
"Grant had a great second quarter," said Prospect coach John Camardella. "He's started a bunch of games for us. That's one of the great things about our team -- nobody cares who starts and who doesn't. They're all just concerned about the role they'll play on any particular night."
Senior Jared Murphy paced a determined Meadows effort by scoring 20 points.
"We never gave up," said Murphy. "We kept fighting. Every time they (Prospect) made a run, we seniors took it upon ourselves in our roles as leaders to help keep our team in the game."
"This was a tough loss," added the senior. "It's sad that this had to be our last game, but they were the better team tonight."
After Prospect withstood the Meadows charge, Whitebloom nailed a 3 from the top of the key to give the Knights the lead back for good with four minutes remaining before halftime.
Whitebloom then had a steal and a layup, so did teammate David Swedura, and when the dust had settled Prospect had gone on a 12-0 run to lead 26-14.
"They jumped to the early lead," said Meadows coach Kevin Katovich, "but our guys kept fighting, scratching, clawing to get back in it. That's pretty much the way we've been playing the entire second half of the season. I'm incredibly proud of the way our kids played tonight."
Meadows was able to close to within 5 points in the third quarter, then once more again in the fourth when Murphy blocked a shot at the defensive end, then went coast-to-coast for a layup to bring the Mustangs to within 44-39.
But a Mack 3-point play helped Prospect extend the advantage, and the Knights were able to close out the game at the free throw line.
Prospect went 16-for-18 from the line in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
"These are two programs, staffs, and players who know each other well," said Camardella of the Prospect-Meadows rivalry. "A lot of these kids grew up together, and there's a lot of mutual respect.
"It's a cliché, but it is difficult to play a team three times, and we knew Meadows was going to come out and play us tough tonight."
Swedura scored 14 points for the Knights, while Whitebloom added 8 points and 6 rebounds.
Jack Schoessling, another senior, scored 13 points for Meadows while junior Ryan Carney added 10.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Prospect," said Katovich. "They're a great team and I hope they go far (in the playoffs). They've earned it."