Artfully, Palatine prevails at Rolling Meadows
Palatine boys basketball coach Eric Millstone once said after a game that outside observers wouldn't always consider Mid-Suburban League basketball to be a masterpiece.
But if you were to ask his team's supporters after the Pirates' crossover game at Rolling Meadows on Tuesday evening, they'd agree it was sure nice to look at.
The visitors rallied twice, from a deficit of 10 points in the third period and from 9 points down in the fourth, then needed a pair of defensive stops in the final 10 seconds to pull out a 57-55 win. Palatine won its fifth in a row and improved to 6-3.
"We knew coming in that Meadows is a hard-working team that makes you earn every point," said Millstone, in his eighth year leading the Pirates. "They're hungry and it makes you appreciate having a rotation that can go 8, 9, 10 deep that can match their intensity."
After spotting Meadows its first 10-point lead at 39-29 with 3:12 left in the third, Palatine's reserves keyed a 9-2 run that put them within 3 (at 41-38). Key scoring came from Charlie Van Dyke, who third third of his four 3s, and all 4 of junior Zack Oles' points, the last of which came 12 ticks into the final quarter.
But host Meadows (0-8) was able to get back to a 9-point advantage with 5:59 to play on the strength of a 7-1 spurt featuring 5 of junior guard Jack Schoessling's 11 points.
After that, Palatine went on a 12-0 tear keyed by the final 3 of the night by Van Dyke (team-high 14 points) which gave the Pirates a 51-48 lead with 3:09 remaining.
Rolling Meadows made 3 of 4 at the foul line to tie it at 51 with 2:01 left in regulation. Palatine answered with a layup by Chris Refka (11 points) and a coast-to-coast effort from Jovone Stricker that began with his rebound of a missed shot, and the Pirates led 55-51 with 1:00 left.
Mustangs senior guard John Lothery drained his fourth 3 of the night to pull Meadows within 55-54.
Palatine edged ahead by 2 on a free throw before Meadows' Jared Murphy (game-high 16 points) split a pair of foul shots with :08 left.
After Matt Ulrich snared the missed free throw, he made 1 of 2, giving Rolling Meadows one last opportunity to either tie or win. But Schoessling's shot attempt was snuffed out by senior reserve Jason Jarrett as time expired.
For a Mustangs squad that has lost six games by 10 points or less (and 3 of those by less than a basket), coach Kevin Katovich tries to encourage his team using the 2011 hit song by Andy Grammer, "Keep Your Head Up."
"I keep saying again and again how proud I am of these guys," Katovich said. "We just have to keep doing our work. We've got some really great kids. You've got to tip your hat to Palatine. They're a real good team."
A sentiment echoed by Van Dyke, in reverse.
"We were fortunate to be able to rally from those deficits in the second half," Van Dyke said. "We were also able to make some huge plays down the stretch tonight."