Downers Grove North defeats Lake Park in overtime
With every missed free throw and every turnover, you could see the faces filling with frustration.
But there's nothing like a victory smile to cover it up.
It wasn't pretty but Downers Grove North advanced to the Class 4A Bartlett sectional title game with Wednesday's 46-44 overtime victory over Lake Park.
There were no field goals made in the extra period, just a bunch of breath-holding on 14 combined free-throw attempts -- only eight that were made. Lake Park's Max Ellenbecker and the Trojans' Collin Reed each split a pair to put the score at 46-44 in favor of Downers North with 8.9 seconds left.
Lake Park went the length of the court and got a shot off, but Trevor Montiel's game-winning 3-point attempt banged off the front of the rim to end the game.
"We've got one game at a time," said Trojans senior guard Trey Boston, who scored a team-high 20 points. "Just be the best one-game team in the state. That's what we've been trying to do with hard work."
The No. 5 Trojans (23-11), playing in their first sectional final since 1999, take on No. 1 Geneva (31-1) at 7 p.m. Friday. They'll play for their first sectional championship since that same 1999 season.
"Nothing was easy all game long," said Trojans coach Jim Thomas. "It was a really gutty performance by our kids to find a way back in that ballgame, get enough stops and make a few baskets."
Seventh-seeded Lake Park (23-11), which burst to a 14-5 first-quarter advantage, led most of the night, including 36-32 with five minutes left in regulation. The Lancers missed seven fourth-quarter free throws, allowing Downers North to stay close.
Two Lake Park misses with 26.1 seconds left gave the Trojans, trailing by 2, a final shot. The first attempt missed but Reed put it back to tie the game 41-41. Lake Park missed a shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
"We all knew we could do it," Reed said. "We just have to play unselfish and play defense. Put those two together and I feel like there's nobody that can really beat us."
Sema'j Henderson scored 14 points for Downers North while battling foul trouble. Luke Sgarbossa had 13 points for Lake Park.
"It was so hard because we played our butts off," said Montiel, who scored a game-high 24 points. "Some things didn't go our way, and some things didn't go their way. But both teams played their hearts out and they just ended up winning."
Lake Park started four juniors and had only two seniors -- Ellenbecker and Tommy Zakic -- in the rotation. Wednesday hurt, but the future looks bright.
"I just can't give enough credit to our guys for how hard they fought all year and never gave up," said first-year Lancers coach Billy Pitcher, whose team had 17 more victories than last season. "I've only known these guys for nine months, but it feels so much longer. I feel so close to them. They're just a real special group."