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A stellar offensive performance by junior guard Erick Locke was not enough to lift the OPRF boys basketball team to victory on Saturday night as the Huskies fell to Hinsdale Central 53-45 in West Suburban (Silver) Conference action in Oak Park.
Locke's 26-point performance was diminished by his team's lack of offense in the first four minutes of the final period. Locke finally hit a three-pointer from the left side to break up a 5-0 run by the Red Devils, but the damage had already been done.
"We took the shots that (Hinsdale Central) wanted us to take," said OPRF head coach Matt Maloney after the game. "We rushed shots and didn't space the floor, and didn't use some of the weapons that we have. We had a lot of points that we should have taken advantage of to find a way to close that gap and make the game a little bit closer."
OPRF center Virgil Allen tallied eight points for the Huskies (14-6, 6-2), who shot 16-for-48 from the field. Senior forward/center TK Mattox notched six points, while senior guard Alex Gustafson had three points as he converted on a shot from behind the arc from the left side to put the Huskies back to within six with 1:09 to go in the game.
Locke put up his third three-pointer of the game from the right wing with 24.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter to inch the Huskies closer, but Hinsdale Central junior guard Chase Hamilton sealed the deal for the Red-Devils with a free-throw.
"It surprised us when (Hinsdale Central) went one-for-one (on defense) at the end," Locke said. "We expected them to stay man and pack it in a little bit more if anything for the adjustment. We got a couple of good looks inside; we were running through, guys jumped out, and the big guys were open. The big guys made great moves in the post down the stretch, and they just missed a couple shots. We had a couple of turnovers that hurt us too. It was just a tough night."
The Huskies took a 5-3 lead to begin the first quarter, but a 10-0 run by the Red Devils, capped off by a basket from senior forward Rigas Pappas, gave Hinsdale Central control of the game early. The Huskies did outscore the Red Devils 16-13 in the third, but as Locke knows, winning one quarter against a team like Hinsdale Central won't get the job done.
"The biggest thing is that we've got to get off to a better start," said Locke. "We got off to a pretty decent start tonight, but we have to stop going one quarter without scoring points. We lost three quarters tonight. We only won the third quarter, and that's the big difference in the game. Our defense has to continue to be better down the stretch. I think that's what we really need to change."
The Huskies will try to regroup when they travel to Hillside Feb. 1 (6 p.m.) to take on Proviso West.