Group effort helps Palatine edge Wheeling in OT

By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/5/2015 9:39 PM

Palatine got a big assist from its bench mob Saturday night against visiting Wheeling.

The Pirates also received great games from a couple of upperclassmen they'll be counting on all season.


Dylan Tapia led the reserves with some great defensive energy, and seniors Matt Ulrich and Matt Mayer brought the Pirates back from a big third-quarter deficit in a 46-42 overtime victory over the Wildcats.

"We've got great depth on our team this year," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone, "and that showed tonight."

Ulrich scored 12 points and Mayer added 9 as the Pirates roared back from 10 points down for the win.

"Those two guys gave us a big lift," added Millstone. "They stepped up and played like seniors are supposed to play."

The game was close early, but Wheeling got some breathing room in the second quarter when a floater in the lane from junior guard TJ Best gave the Wildcats a 19-11 lead.

Wheeling opened up a 10-point advantage midway through the third period when Best hit a couple of 3s.

Then Palatine, which had already missed nine 3-point attempts, gave up the long-range shooting and started to attack the basket.

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The Pirates' drives to the hoop led to 7 consecutive points on free throws, and the home team was right back in it.

"We were able to chance the pace of the game to a tempo we were more comfortable with," said Millstone.

Palatine overtook Wheeling and held a 36-34 lead before a turnaround basket by Wildcats 6-9 center Patrick Szpir forced overtime.

The Pirates (3-3) took control in the extra session on a layup by Mayer then a short jumper from another bench player, sophomore Johnny O'Shea.

Best tied the game with another 3, but a layup from Christopher Refka, a steal from Mayer and 2 clutch free throws by Ulrich handed the Pirates a 4-point lead with 11 seconds left.

Wheeling (3-4) had some chances in the final seconds but misfired on a couple of 3-point attempts.

Joshua Turner scored 7 points for Palatine, including 4-of-4 at the line in the third quarter when the Pirates, who finished 13-of-15 from the line, were mounting their rally.

Best scored a game-high 13 points for Wheeling, while teammate Szpir finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds in the tough loss.

"We're still finding our way," said Millstone, "so it's great to get a win. I have to give a lot of credit to Wheeling tonight -- Mike (Wildcats coach O'Keeffe) has them playing great."

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