Downers Grove North allows LT too many chances
Take away the final seconds of every quarter and Downers Grove North might have won Wednesday night.
The Trojans failed to finish and thus failed to win, losing to Lyons Twp. 52-50 in West Suburban Conference Silver Division boys basketball action in Downers Grove.
The visiting Lions scored last at the end of each period and narrowly avenged a December loss to the Trojans.
Grant Niego banked in a three-quarters-court shot to give the Lions a 15-12 lead after one quarter, then Tyrese Shines sank a pull-up jumper at the buzzer to end the first half. Niego converted a three-point play with 7.4 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 37-37 and Shines capped the scoring with a free throw with 4.2 ticks left in the fourth.
"We gave up a 3 at the end of a quarter when we stopped playing," Downers North coach Jim Thomas said. "We gave up a 2 at the end of the second quarter that was contested and we also gave up a layup near the end of the third quarter.
"So that's 7 points. I told our kids if you don't play more attention to those things, you're not beating teams like LT."
The Trojans (10-5, 2-3) could have won if not for committing several crucial turnovers in the fourth quarter. They wasted a 21-point, 10-rebound effort from guard Semaj Henderson, whose potential game-winner from center court bounced off the left side of the rim at the final buzzer.
"We had 8 turnovers in the fourth quarter," Downers North senior Connor Ilyavi said. "We just got to have that killer instinct and be smart with the ball and be smart off the ball too.
"That's like the story of our season. We've just got to stay strong in the fourth quarter."
Instead, it was the Lions (11-5, 3-2) who rose to the occasion. Josh Berry scored on a drive to give LT the lead for good at 49-47 with 2:05 left. He later stripped Henderson with 1:15 left and then stole the ball from Trey Boston after Boston had made a steal in transition.
The latter theft led to a fastbreak layup by Nolan Niego with 14 seconds left.
"That was a game-changer," said Nolan Niego, who had 14 points, including four 3-pointers. "It was great defense by Josh.
"It changed the game and put us in a great spot."
Ilyavi, who tallied all 11 of his points in the second half, drained his third 3-pointer of the game to pull the Trojans within 51-50 with nine seconds left. But Downers North was out of timeouts, and the Lions let the clock run.
Boston tried to force the Lions to inbound the ball but was called for a technical foul for interfering with the ball. Shines split a pair of free throws and LT missed the front end of 1-and-1 with 3.5 seconds left to set up Henderson's last-ditch miss.
"I thought we would (get another chance)," Ilyavi said. "I was hoping we would (score), but that's the way it went."
Shines led LT with 18 points and 7 rebounds, while Berry added 10 points and Grant Niego had 8 points and 8 boards. Boston finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds for Downers North.