Tuesday's ceremony honoring retired Lisle boys basketball coach and teacher Mark D'Amico stirred memories.
It recalled an era, not long ago, when Hall of Famers D'Amico and Seneca counterpart Doug Evans matched wits and Lisle's T.J. Parker and Joe Cortez battled Seneca's Garrett Callahan when it was truly the Interstate Eight Conference.
Every era has its heroes. These rivals returned to Lisle's old gym, and led by Kazim Khan's 30 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals and Dawon Burrell's 17 points and 3 steals, the Lions beat Seneca 60-52.
"I've talked to a lot of former players that were here today, and he's a real respected coach," Khan said of D'Amico, who retired as a drivers education teacher in January.
"I really respect him," Khan said, "and I came out as hard as I could today because he was there."
Lisle (11-16, 5-4) beat Seneca's youthful squad one senior, Jacob Klepk, among a roster of juniors and sophomores for the third time in four meetings spanning three seasons. Even D'Amico was hard-pressed to do that.
"It feels great," said sixth-year Lions coach Mark LaScala, one of Lisle's four coaches in the program who played for D'Amico. "We didn't beat them at all my first three years. They beat us like a drum, so it is good."
Seneca (14-11, 6-2) fell behind 20-9 in the first quarter, as Khan scored 10, and never led. The Fighting Irish, led by junior Jimmy David's 21 points and five 3-pointers, pulled within 26-25 in the second quarter and 48-47 midway through the fourth.
In both the third and fourth quarters, however, Lisle held the Irish scoreless the final three minutes.
"When you dig yourself a 20-12 hole and it was really 20-9 until that last-second shot (a David 3) you've got to play catch-up the rest of the time. And you exert a lot of energy, and when you exert a lot of energy you get a little fatigued," said Seneca coach Russ Witte.
The Irish forced 4 turnovers in Lisle's first six possessions of the fourth quarter, causing LaScala to take a timeout. The message didn't take immediately, but Lisle closed the game on a 10-0 run highlighted by a Burrell 3-point play, a Khan putback off a missed free throw, and Cam Bell's coast-to-coast layup.
"When they got away from us Coach called a timeout and he was like, 'We're out of our box, we've got to get back in and get back to what we're known for' our defense. And we stepped it up and brought it back," Burrell said.
Lisle High School
Conference: Interstate Eight Small
- Win over Westmont special to Lisle
- Anybody can win at Westmont
- Neuqua Valley holding out for top spot
- IC Catholic Prep wins easily
- Levesque a welcome addition at Glenbard West