Martinelli block with 3 seconds left secures Titans win over Simeon

 
 
Posted1/27/2022 9:00 AM

Legitimacy can be elusive in the realm of sport.

In the second boys basketball game at the highly-anticipated When Sides Collide Shootout at Benet Academy on Jan. 22, Glenbrook South had neither history nor legacy at its disposal.

 

The Titans have never won a sectional championship in program history; their opponent, Public League behemoth Simeon, is one of only two schools in history -- Peoria Manual is the other -- to win four consecutive state championships.

But when the Titans not only extended their winning streak to 14 games while also terminating the Wolverines' run at 10 straight with a drama-filled 57-54 victory before a raucous, standing-room-only crowd in Lisle, fifth-year Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston felt his team had arrived.

"This was a big game," Ralston said. "But we already won the game by getting the game. We've been asking for a game like this for a while, and no one wanted to give it to us."

The Titans, The Associated Press' No. 3 team in Class 4A, improved to 20-1. Simeon, the top-ranked Class 3A program, suffered its first in-state loss in falling to 16-2.

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The final 22.1 seconds of the game was a significant chapter in its own right.

The Titans' Gaven Marr calmly sank two free throws after Simeon committed its seventh team foul of the half.

There would be no more points scored, but Glenbrook South would have to endure three Simeon attempts before time expired.

The Wolverines' attempt at a quick two misfired, only to receive a second chance on an alternating-possession jump ball.

The Titans' Nick Martinelli, who scored 18 of his 21 points in a brilliant first half, had the defensive play of the game when he blocked Aviyon Morris' potential game-tying 3-point shot with 3.1 seconds to play.

"I knew he was going to shoot it, and I knew I had to get it," said the Elon recruit, who also led both teams with 11 rebounds.

"We were all talking to each other and making sure not to give up a 3-pointer."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Morris' desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer seconds later missed as the Titans instantly celebrated their signature victory.

Morris' runner in the lane had broken the last tie of the game less than three minutes earlier.

Marquee games often allow unheralded players to rise to the moment.

The Titans' Nate Kasher answered the call, draining his second 3-pointer of the frenetic fourth quarter with 2 minutes, 23 seconds remaining to give Glenbrook South the lead for good at 53-52.

"We already all trust one another, but this was great for our confidence," said the sophomore guard, who scored all of his points on the two 3-pointers.

Cooper Noard, the Titans' other Division-I recruit (Cornell University), who missed virtually the entire first half with 2 early fouls, followed the Kasher 3-pointer with a steal and uncontested layup to give Glenbrook South the first of its two 3-point leads in the waning moments.

Ralston has been around long enough to understand the ultimate measuring stick for the program will come in the postseason.

"This cannot be our highlight of the season," Ralston said. "Our kids know that."

Martinelli was the lone Glenbrook South player to reach double figures. Noard had all 9 of his points after the break.

Simeon used second-chance points as the centerpiece of its 23-12 second-quarter plurality to take a 34-32 lead into the intermission.

"That's a good team," Simeon coach Rob Smith said of the Titans. "We didn't lose to a bad team; we just didn't play up to our capabilities."

Jaylen Drane and Miles Rubin led the Wolverines with 12 points each.

In the opening game at Benet, New Trier had too much firepower and depth for the No. 1 Class 1A program in the state, Yorkville Christian.

The Trevians' Jackson Munro dominated the paint with 16 of his game-high 26 points in the opening half in leading New Trier to a 71-55 victory.

"They're really fast and quick, but we knew we had a size advantage," the 6-foot-8 Princeton-bound Munro said. "My teammates did a great job in finding me in positions to score."

The Trevians' sixth-man, Karlo Colak, was truly instant offense off the pines with 19 points. New Trier junior sharpshooter Jake Fiegan added 13.

Jaden Schutt, a Duke commit and the top-rated senior in the state, led Yorkville Christian with 17 points.

New Trier (20-2), whose only two losses have come against Simeon in the semifinals at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament and against Glenbrook South, will travel to Glenview on Thursday for another slugfest with the Titans for Central Suburban South supremacy.

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