Christie reaches 1,000 as Rolling Meadows clinches MSL East title
Orlando Thomas, Rolling Meadows' senior guard, has gone through the wars with Prospect.
Friday was no different as the Knights threw everything in their arsenal at the host Mustangs but the kitchen sink.
At stake was the Mid-Suburban East boys basketball championship.
It was Thomas' basket with 1:45 left in the game that gave Rolling Meadows a little breathing room at 53-49.
"When they cut it to two points, we really weren't fazed," said Thomas. "We didn't get flustered. We stayed levelheaded and calm. We knew Prospect wouldn't go down without a fight. They are a great team, a great organization. They gave us a good punch but we responded and got the win."
Freshman Ian Miletic, who had missed on a 3-point attempt with under a minute to play, gave the Knights a chance to creep closer. Prospect could not convert and Miletic grabbed the rebound on a missed shot and was fouled.
Miletic sank both ends of a one-and-bonus free throw situation with 32 seconds left to cap a 55-49 win.
"I knew that if I was going to take that three-point shot, I had to make it," said Miletic. "Sadly I missed it, then when I had the shots at the free-throw line I said here was a chance to redeem myself. I took a deep breath and I made them. I knew I would make them."
"That was huge for Ian to hit those free throws for us," said Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich. "He's been steady for us all season."
The victory marked the first time since 1991 that Rolling Meadows captured back-to-back Mid-Suburban East crowns.
The Mustangs improved their season record to 24-3 and 9-0 in the conference. Prospect fell to 14-10 and 7-2.
"We had to be more decisive on defense," said Prospect coach Brad Rathe. "We came up with a big run but it's hard. It's hard when you get down like we were to beat good teams. We fought and clawed and got some shots to get close before Thomas made that shot."
Rolling Meadows never trailed after Mark Nikolich-Wilson's drive to the basket put his team up 11-10 with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Knights stayed close at 26-21 before Cameron Christie (17 points, 5 rebounds) closed out the first half with 2 free throws and a midcourt bank in 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 31-21 lead.
In that second quarter, Christie became the ninth Rolling Meadows player to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career.
"It was a great feeling," said Christie. "I thank everyone in the program, the coaches and my teammates in helping me achieve that honor."
David Marshall scored 13 points for the Knights, while Alex Georgakas had 20.
"We knew we had to play our best to beat a good team like Meadows," said Georgakas. "We had some good momentum not to rush shots and look for the teammate who was open."
"We have a great rivalry with Prospect," said Katovich. "We knew they would come out with energy and intensity and they were not going to go away."
I feel great about the conference championship," said Thomas. "It's so special to put up back-to-back banners."