New Trier wins another barnburner
As Glenbrook North's boys basketball team left their locker room following Friday's Class 4A New Trier sectional final, Spartans guard Ryan Cohen approached New Trier's Jake Fiegen.
A respectful embrace between friendly competitors.
"Go win a state championship," Cohen told Fiegen.
It was a shame that after a series of great games in Northfield only one team could advance, but gritty No. 1 seed New Trier (31-4) earned it with a 47-46 victory over No. 2 Glenbrook North (28-5).
It was the Trevians' 16th sectional title and first since 2013. They'll play Libertyville at 8 p.m. Monday at the Class 4A Hoffman Estates NOW Arena supersectional.
"This is a team that lost seven out of our eight top guys from last year and didn't have a lot of experience coming back except for Jake," said New Trier coach Scott Fricke. "But our young guys stepped in and our seniors were so great with our younger guys, and so positive and stayed with them the whole year. It's just a tribute to our leadership."
New Trier trailed 37-32 after three quarters -- and long before, by 9-1 after one quarter and 22-9 midway in the second.
Fiegen scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. The Trevians claimed their first lead of the game with 6:10 to go, 42-41 on the 6-foot-4 senior's 3 off Logan Feller's rocket pass along the baseline.
Owen Giannoulias answered with a pull-up jumper and then a 3 to give Glenbrook South a 46-42 lead with 4:51 left. The Spartans did not score again.
At 2:46 Fiegen scored on a putback, then stole the ball. He fought through a thicket of arms to tie the score 46-46 with 1:53 to play.
"I think it's just grit, especially when it comes down to the end of the game -- rebounds, finishing at the rim, playing through contact," Fiegen said. "You have to be tough physically and mentally, especially in a game like that when things aren't going your way. You have to be tough mentally and forget about it."
After Glenbrook South missed a 3, Fricke took two timeouts. The Trevians then ran the clock from 1:07 until Evan Kanellos, who made the buzzer-beater game-winner in New Trier's semifinal win, got fouled driving the lane with 5.1 seconds left.
He missed the first free throw but made the second for the winning point, 47-46.
"I made 15 in a row in warmups, and then I missed three in a row in the game. So I was like, the next one has to go in. And it went in," Kanellos said.
Glenbrook North coach Quin Hayes took three timeouts to get things right, then Sam Lappin inbounded to Cohen. The senior dribbled from about foul line to foul line and sliced through two Trevians for a shot he'd made twice earlier -- "a nice little floater," Cohen said.
"I mean, the shot just keeps replaying in my head, it looked so good, I thought it was down for sure. And it went in and out, it was just a heartbreaker," he said.
Colby Smith scored 9 points for New Trier, all on big 3s. Kanellos scored 7 and Tyler Van Gorp scored 5 points with 6 blocked shots and 6 rebounds.
Sam Lappin's 15 points led Glenbrook North. Cohen and fellow senior Gavin Schooley scored 8 apiece.
"All the credit goes to (Cohen) and those seniors," Hayes said." For buying in right away when I got the job here and just turning this program around because nothing happens without those guys. I'm so proud of them and I'm sad that this is the end for them, but they'll go on to bigger and greater things. That's their character, that's who they are."