Schuamburg knocks off Glenbrook North
After having seen a Mid-Suburban League West Division championship opportunity go by the wayside 11 days earlier in an overtime loss to Fremd, Schaumburg sought entrance Tuesday night into a second chance at winning another title.
This time, the Saxons' boys basketball team would have to successfully repeat a winning performance over a Glenbrook North team they beat 22 days earlier on the Spartans' home court to get that shot.
Thanks in large part to an ability to hold off a late surge by the host school, Schaumburg will play for a Class 4A regional championship as it prevailed over Glenbrook North 63-57.
The seventh-seeded Saxons (22-6) will return to Northbrook for a Friday night date with No. 2 seed New Trier (23-6), a 67-45 winner over 15th-seeded Maine East in Tuesday's first semifinal.
It will be Schaumburg's first regional final appearance since 2013.
"We knew they were a good team," Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler said of the Spartans. "I thought our guys at times broke down on execution but I thought our intensity level and the way we competed after loose balls, rebounds, hustle plays, kept us in it and kept us a lead that let us finish the game."
It would be the senior duo of Alex Press (game-high 23 points) and Brian Johnson (20 points) who ignited the comeback for ninth-seeded North (17-12). The Spartans erased an early 11-point fourth quarter deficit and got within 2 at 59-57 on Johnson's fourth 3-pointer of the night with 1:12 left.
Heze Trotter (12 points) gave the Saxons much-needed breathing room with a drive inside that made it 61-57 with 27 ticks left. Fellow senior Michael Hodges closed out the scoring with a pair of charity tosses that sealed the deal after the Spartans were called for charging on their previous possession.
Hodges, a 6-2 senior who paced Schaumburg with 21 points including a 5-for-6 effort at the foul line, gave Glenbrook North credit for its comeback
"They made some tough shots coming down in the clutch," Hodges said. "But that's how a regional game is. Things happen. You just have to come together as a team and just keep building on it."
Michael Hodges' 6-8 sophomore brother Chris added 16 points and 8 rebounds.
For Glenbrook North Dave Weber, he appreciated his squad's comeback.
"I was proud of them that they fought back," Weber said. "We had the ball. We're down two, we charged and then we threw it away. We had two possessions where if we make a shot, who knows what's gonna happen."
For Heisler, it's the challenge versus New Trier on Friday that now occupies his mind.
"The goal has been to compete for a regional title," Heisler said. "New Trier is awfully good. I think we're awfully good, too. It's gonna be a big battle. They're big, they shoot the ball well, they run good stuff, and we gotta come to play for sure."