Shortly after Prospect's 63-48 win over Geneva in the quarterfinal round of 40th annual Hardwood Classic at Wheeling, Knights coach John Camardella had a sort of flashback to his playing days at Hersey.
For a few moments, he was celebrating like a kid, laughing loudly and giving high fives to each one of his players.
"It feels great," Camardella said of his team's 10th straight win. "It really does. Our guys were ready to play."
Indeed. After seeing an early lead go by the wayside, an 8-0 run put the Mid-Suburban East-leading Knights (10-2) ahead to stay at the break with a 28-20 advantage.
"My teammates were able to find me," said Prospect's Johnny Czeslawski, whose third of four 3-pointers with 2:06 to play in the first half gave the Knights the lead for good at 23-21. "With every game we're gaining more confidence as a team."
The 6-foot-5 senior swingman's 16 points paced a balanced Knights attack that had 5 players score in double figures.
Six-foot-3 junior Jon Kreidler followed Czeslawski with a 13-point, 5-rebound performance. Southern Illinois preferred walk-on invite David Swedura added 11 (including 6 in the final quarter); 6-4 senior Jalen McLachlan and 5-11 guard Tim Lussenhop each added 10 points.
Prospect advances to a 7:15 p.m. Friday semifinal versus Niles North (11-0), a 70-62 winner over Buffalo Grove.
For Camardella, the next game is a particularly interesting matchup -- Niles North coach Glenn Olson is a neighbor.
"He lives six houses down from me," Camardella said with a laugh. "It's a big match, no doubt. They're one of the top teams in the area. He has a lot of good players. Everyone will have to step up."
Six-7 sophomore Nate Santos paced Geneva (7-4) with 9 points, while senior Jack Hood and sophomore Joshua Preston had 8 apiece. Junior guard Jack McDonald had 3 points to go with a team-best 8 assists.
Next up for the Vikes is a matchup with Buffalo Grove (7-6) at 3:45 p.m. Friday.
First-year Vikings coach Scott Hennig calls the Wheeling tourney a fantastic experience for his team, after Geneva played at DeKalb in recent years.
"They really do a great job here," Henning said. "It has a regional tournament feel to it.
"We get to come back tomorrow and face a very good Buffalo Grove club who gave Niles North all that it could handle. This is why we came."