Lisle runs out of victories
The bad thing about a 16-game winning streak is the odds catch up.
Seneca ended Lisle's streak and season with a 40-31 victory at Friday's Class 2A Lisle regional final.
Extending its 1-2-2 ball press past half-court, Seneca forced 24 turnovers and 27 percent field-goal shooting. When Lisle rallied to within a point late in the final three minutes, the Fighting Irish got a key steal then made 8 of 9 free throws.
"We knew they were going to make a run, and free throws were the key for us," said Seneca coach Russell Witte, whose team lost 37-24 to Lisle on Feb. 6 in Interstate Eight Conference play. No. 4 seed Seneca (18-12) advanced to a Clifton Central sectional semifinal against Saturday's winner between Momence and Watseka.
"The game was played at Seneca's pace and that was a huge advantage for them," said Lisle coach Mark LaScala. "That's what the ball press does for them, it helps control the pace of the game."
No. 1 seed Lisle (20-10) led once, 3-2 on Elisha Basnight's 3-pointer at 6:10 of the first quarter. It was the Lions' sole 3 in 13 attempts, part of 11-of-40 overall shooting.
"I think they might have done a few more zones the first time we played them, but it seemed the whole game they were in that extended 1-2-2, besides the end they were in man a little bit. It was pretty effective," said Lisle guard Jay McGrath.
Seneca forced 1-of-10 first-quarter shooting and led 11-3 after one quarter and 19-10 at halftime, before Cameron Stitt got the Lions rolling with all 8 of his points in the third quarter. Devin Tincu led Lisle with 10 points, same as Seneca's Hunter Greve and Sam Grushkin.
Leading Lisle to within 25-20 after three quarters, Stitt rolled his oft-injured left ankle early in the fourth and did not return.
"Whenever somebody gets hurt we want to work as hard as we can to get the win for them, but unfortunately in this case we didn't come out with it," he said.
They nearly did. Jakub Kowal converted two alley-oop passes from Connor Webb and Tincu swished four free throws to creep within 32-31 with 2:26 to play.
The crowd in full throat, Lisle got a defensive stop, but Seneca's Connor Greve stole the ball back. The Irish spread the floor and in the last 1:39 got two Logan Bruss free throws and six by Greve's older brother, Hunter.
"That was really crucial. That changed the pace of the game, that changed everything," Hunter Greve said of his brother's steal.
It also ended the prep basketball senior seasons of Lisle's Stitt, Tincu, Caleb Carter, Sean Grutzmacher and Jonas Wilke.
"We didn't want to quit," Wilke said. "We've been there before, we knew we could come back, it just didn't work out in the end."