Addison Trail gets a key league victory
This was the type of game the Addison Trail boys basketball team must keep winning to claim its first conference championship since its 1982-83 Des Plaines Valley League title.
The resilient Blazers countered a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds by Morton's Harvard-bound forward, Weisner Perez, to win Tuesday's West Suburban Conference Gold Division thriller 55-52. Host Addison Trail (12-3, 3-1) moved within a half-game of the Gold-leading Mustangs (9-7, 4-1).
"Our guys all year in these situations, they've not been rattled," said Blazers coach Brendan Lyons. "They've not had that big turnover, we've gotten the big stop when we needed to."
The key stop came after Addison Trail forward Jaavion Bradley made two free throws to reclaim a 53-52 lead with 29.8 seconds left.
Morton coach Tony Martinucci let the clock run until taking a timeout with 6.4 seconds to play. Back on the court Morton's Dexter Dale fed Perez in the paint. Addison Trail guard Matt Gontarek slid in and drew a charge on Perez with 3.3 seconds left.
The Blazers took over and Bradley, rubbing his forehead after a hard foul, made two more free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining. Dante Frontier batted Morton's desperation 3 from three-quarters court.
"Throughout the whole game people were taking charges the whole time," Gontarek said. "I attempted maybe three, but we all knew who was getting the ball and that was Weisner Perez. As he drove in I just helped out, stepped in, took the charge and got the call."
Numerous times Morton appeared primed to take momentum. Each time Addison Trail fended off the Mustangs.
"It started with the very beginning of the game, we came out flat, didn't have a good start to the game," Perez said. "In the first quarter we starting trying to chase back and then after that it was anyone's game right there."
Addison Trail made 9 of 21 3-point shots to Morton's 2 of 18. The Blazers -- who committed 19 turnovers but just 1 in the fourth quarter -- counted big 3s by Gontarek, Bradley, Jack Kalbas and Taylor White, who led the Blazers with 18 points. Bradley scored 11, Kalbas 10 and Eric Grygo notched 4 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks despite constant foul trouble.
"Our goals for this week -- because we have two big conference games against Morton and Hinsdale South -- we wanted to come out of the week 2-0 and 4-1 in conference and first place in the conference after this week," White said. "We put ourselves in position to do that. We've got to get ready for a big game on Friday."