2016-'17 Season Coverage
posted: 2/28/2017 1:00 AM

Glenbrook N. gives Libertyville early dose of March sadness

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They weren't ready to be done.

Although, it sure looked like James Karis and the rest of his Glenbrook North teammates were done. Finished. Like put a fork in them … done.

The Glenbrook North boys basketball team trailed Libertyville in opening round regional action on Libertyville's own floor all game Monday night.

The Spartans were down 11-0 to start the game. Then down 15-2. Then down by as many as 18 points in the third quarter.

Then, Karis and his senior teammates made a plea to the rest of the guys on the team.

"During one of our timeouts, I just said to the guys, 'I don't want this game to be my last game, so play for me, play for all of us (seniors)," Karis said. "We all did it as a team. And at the end of the day, we had more heart."

A determined Glenbrook North slowly but surely chipped away at its deficit and wound up providing the seniors with at least one more game, stunning Libertyville with a 48-47 victory. The game was sealed with a Karis and-one drive to the basket and made free throw, as well as a missed free throw by Libertyville with 1.9 seconds that would have tied the game.

Glenbrook North, the No. 18 seed, improves to 13-14 and advances to play No. 2 Notre Dame in today's regional semifinal. No. 14 Libertyville ends its season with a 12-16 record.

"We could definitely sense panic (in Libertyville), but I think anyone would be in panic mode," Karis said. "You're up 18 and you lose that lead and you're at home and it's your regional. I mean, this was their game. I give it to them. They played their butts off for three quarters and they should have won, but I think they panicked, and they didn't know what to do."

Glenbrook North hit Libertyville with a 1-3-1 zone press in the second half that created some chaos. The Wildcats had just 3 turnovers in the first half and 12 in the second against the pressure. Also, Libertyville leading scorer Drew Peterson had 18 first-half points but finished with just 20 points (although that was the game-high) because the press limited his touches.

"I think the 1-3-1 trap not only hurt (Libertyville) but it was also about how hard we played in it," Glenbrook North coach David Weber said. "Sometimes you can play that and not play hard. But everyone was scrambling.

"It was a great high school basketball game. I feel bad for (Libertyville), because they owned that game. That was their game. They had it from start to almost finish. And somehow, we found a way to win."

Weber, who got 12 points from Karis, 11 points from Kellen Witherell and 10 points from Tommy Gertner, says he can't remember any of his teams coming back that far from a deficit.

Meanwhile, things were a little hazy over on the Libertyville side, too. Shell-shocked might be a better word for it.

"The kids were down (in the post-game locker room) and it's more disbelief than anything," Libertyville coach Brent Mork said. "To have an (18-point) lead like that, we were in total control and we let it slip away."

And that's what happened to Brandon Rule's basketball career on Monday night. It slipped away. The Libertyville senior guard played his last high school game, and scored 8 points in the process.

"It's been a long journey (of basketball) since the third grade. I'm definitely going to miss it," Rule said. "It's something I've loved since I was a kid and I dreamed of playing for the high school for as long as I can remember. I'm just going to miss it.

"It was not happy in the locker room (after the game). There were some tears, especially from the seniors. This was shocking. This is not a feeling I thought I'd ever feel."

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