2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/19/2018 10:28 PM

Maine West reverses course vs. Highland Park

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By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent

Maine West's boys basketball team turned the tables on Highland Park in Des Plaines on Friday night.

After suffering a 72-59 loss to the Giants in December, the Warriors came away with a thrilling 48-45 win in the Central Suburban North. The outcome leaves Maine West and Highland Park in a tie for first place with four conference games to be played.

Senior forward Matt Kentgen connected on a 3 from the top of the key with 1:41 left to give the Warriors a 46-45 lead. Julian Dones hit 2 free throws with 4.7 seconds left to ice the game.

"I knew when Matt let it go it was going in," said Maine West coach Tom Prokopij. "Matt has hit some big 3-pointers for us in the last three games. I have confidence in our big men to shoot the 3-pointers."

Prokopij was some what surprised when he saw that junior Ely Grimmer had scored 14 points to go with 11 rebounds.

Grimmer started for the injured Milos Dugalic, who suffered a hand injury in a loss at Hersey on Tuesday night.

"Even with Milos out, I knew we had the players to compete," said Prokopij. "Ely is a competitor. He does everything on the court like screening, rebounding, playing defense -- all the intangibles."

With only two days of practice, Grimmer was ready to go.

"The other seniors in the starting five really worked with me and made me feel like a starter," said Grimmer. "I'm pretty sure a lot of people were surprised in what I did tonight. I wasn't surprised. I know I work hard every day in practice and I have my teammates at my back."

Jack Collins (10 points, 10 rebounds) helped get the Warriors (11-6, 5-1) off to a good start along with Grimmer by combining for 11 of the Warriors' 17 first-quarter points and a 17-11 lead.

Maine West did not give up the lead until late in the third quarter, when Lucas Fleischer hit a 3 and a steal and score from Daniel Michelon (15 points) to give the Giants (9-7, 5-1) the lead at 36-33 to end the quarter.

"Coach drew up a few plays for us during the break between quarters," said Grimmer. "We got ourselves back in the game and then played some strong defense. That's what we pride ourselves in."

Grimmer connected from 3-point range to tie it at 36 and then took an assist from Julian Dones on a bucket for a 41-36 Maine West lead.

Ziv Tal (10 points) gave the Giants their last lead at 45-43 with 2:56 left.

Maine West's defense went to work, stopping Tal's drives to the basket and generating two offensive fouls. Tal's last-second heave from mid-court bounced off the backboard and into Kentgen's waiting arms.

The Warriors had a huge rebounding edge with a 33-13 advantage.

"That was a big difference in the game," said Highland Park coach Paul Harris. "They attacked the glass pretty well. We thought that they would have some surges like they had to start the game. We steadied ourselves and got back in the game. They made a couple of more plays then we did down the stretch."

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