Maine West nips Highland Park
As Highland Park made the trek to Des Plaines Friday evening for its Central Suburban South boys basketball contest at Maine West, a viable path toward catching current division front-runner Niles North had visibility for the Giants as they trailed the Vikings by 2½ games entering Friday's divisional slate.
Unfortunately for Highland Park, the hosts made that path more difficult as, thanks to a strong start from beyond the arc, Maine West was able to hold off a late Giant charge to emerge victorious with a 48-45 win at Rider Gym.
As a result, Niles North (20-4, 7-0) clinched a share of the CSL South with the Warriors' victory.
The home team (9-12, 4-3) got things going thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from 5-foot-8 junior guard Daniel Prieto that led off West's trey-sized feast. Its 15-8 lead at the end of period one was capped off by Prieto's third triple of the night with 55 seconds left.
Senior forwards Jacob Riedl (11 points) and Danny Kentgen kept the 3-point barrage going early in the second to aid the Warrior advantage, which got as high as 10 before going into the locker room up 23-16. West made 7 of its first 11 3-point attempts.
"We like shooting open 3s," Warriors coach Tom Prokopij said. "Prieto's a really good 3-point shooter. He's just been waiting for his turn to get some extra minutes this year and tonight was his night."
The Giants (12-8, 4-3) would go on a 13-2 rally during the middle of the third to tie the game up at 30 on 5-11 senior guard Zach Fagenholz's steal, drive, and layup with 2:16 left in the quarter, setting the stage for Prieto's return in the fourth where his fourth and fifth treys of the evening helped Maine West get some much-needed breathing room at 42-36 with 4:49 left.
Prieto, who led the Warriors with 15 points, credited his readiness to make the shot when called upon for his success.
"Going into the game, I was the designated shooter in the corner," Prieto said. "Every single opportunity I got, I just looked to shoot and I made the most out of it tonight."
Still, Highland Park had an opportunity to tie the game after getting back-to-back drives inside from game-high leading scorer Nate Fleisher (17 points) that closed the margin to what became the final score. After a missed front end of a one-and-bonus by West, Fleisher's game-tying 3 try was partially blocked and snared by Kentgen with two ticks left to preserve the Warrior triumph.