Rolling Meadows caps a perfect season with MSL championship
Rolling Meadows was like the legendary Hydra. But instead of when one head was cut off, multiple ones took its place.
With Barrington taking McDonald's All-American Max Christie out of his game, the Mustangs filled in quite nicely and powered past the Broncos to a 49-41 win in the Mid-Suburban League boys basketball championship Saturday at Meadows.
It was the first MSL title for Rolling Meadows since 1991. It also enabled the Mustangs to end their season with perfect 15-0 record in the shortened season.
"They (Barrington) gave us fits," said a soaking wet Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich, who had just received a water cooler shower from his team.
"They put three or four guys on Max and the other guys stepped up. That's what this team will be remembered for. In my opinion, Max Christie is the best player ever to play in the MSL. He will also go down in history as a guy who had a good team around him." Max Christie would just have to look down the hall at his house to find one of those guys. His sophomore brother, Cameron, had a monster game, scoring 22 points, hitting 9-of-15 shots including four 3-pointers.
"It was all thanks to my teammates," Cameron Christie said. "They kept getting me the ball. It is a special team. Whether you start, come off the bench, whether you play 30 minutes or zero minutes, everyone contributes in their own way."
Each team had their struggles in the first half, thanks to the defensive play of their opponent.
Rolling Meadows' pressure forced 10 Barrington turnovers. Meanwhile, Barrington's length bothered Meadows, which shot just 10-of-26 from the field, just good enough for a 26-25 halftime lead.
Daniel Sobkowicz (10 points, 5 rebounds) and Orlando Thomas (5 points) helped the Mustangs surge to a 40-30 advantage after three quarters. The Mustang defense got solid play from both of them, along with the Christie brothers, Foster Ogbonna, Ryan Stubitsch, Luke Duffer and Aidan Hosler, holding Barrington to one field goal in the quarter.
"We found a way to get things done," Sobkowicz said. "Our defense was very good."
Barrington (10-3) showed why it was MSL West champions.
Will Grudzinski (15 points), Damian Zivak (8 points) and Evan Jon-Baptiste (5 points) each knocked down a 3-pointer and suddenly it was 40-39 with 5:12 to play.
Cameron Christie then drained a huge 3-pointer after an offensive rebound by Thomas and then had a dunk after a steal to make it 45-39. Grudzinski dug the ball out in a scrum after a missed shot to pull Barrington to 45-41with 37 seconds left.
The Mustangs, who had missed on a pair of free throws, then turned to Max Christie. The senior, who was 2-of-13 from the field, drilled four consecutive free throws to put the game away.
"The goal was to win as many games as possible," said Max Christie, who finished with 8 points. "That's what we did. We won every single game."
Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said he was proud of what his team accomplished in this unconventional season.
"Our kids, once we had a season, they showed up and worked hard every day," Tucker said. "They took advantage of what we were given. They did a nice job."