By Marty Farmer
When the Oak Park and River Forest High School and Lyons Township High School boys basketball teams square off, typically the game is hotly contested with a close final score. As a recent example, the Lions nipped the visiting Huskies 48-47 (Jan. 10) in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division rivals' previous meeting this season.
The Huskies earned a measure of revenge on Friday via a relatively comfortable 61-45 win against the Lions at the OPRF Field House. The first quarter resumed the rivalry in predictably close fashion with OPRF leading 20-19 at the end of the quarter. The second quarter, however, proved the difference as the Lions went ice cold offensively. The opportunistic Huskies (17-6, 6-4) took full advantage by outscoring LTHS 14-2 in the quarter to seize a 34-21 halftime lead.
"I thought our defensive pressure in the second quarter and our zone offense in that quarter changed the course of the game." OPRF coach Matt Maloney said. "Jason Gant had a lockdown defensive performance on LT's stud, Harrison Niego. We did a nice job in the fourth quarter when they went to their extended 1 – 3 – 1 trap.
"Erick Locke had some great assists that led to easy points to help us lengthen out the lead. Furthermore, we were 15 of 19 from the line. Our guys have made a concerted effort to improve their percentage from the charity stripe and it showed against LT."
The teams essentially traded baskets in the second half as the Lions (14-10, 5-6) couldn't cut into their double-digit deficit.
OPRF senior forward Simmie Cobbs turned in a very efficient performance with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting and hauled down 11 rebounds. Point guard Erick Locke had a solid all-around game with 15 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Elliot Greffin (11 points) and Jason Gant (eight points, five assists) also contributed for the victors.
Jacquan Phipps led LTHS with 16 points and seven rebounds and Harrison Niego scored 13 points. Matt Mrazek played well in the paint with seven points and nine rebounds.
The Lions struggled from the field, making only 14 of 51 shots, while OPRF converted 22 of 42 shot attempts. The Huskies shot the ball particularly well from the inside the three-point arc (22-for-31).
On Saturday, Hinsdale Central also defeated LTHS 63-57 in overtime.
In conference action this week, OPRF hosts Downers Grove North (Senior Night) and York on Friday (7:30 p.m.). The Lions visit Proviso West Friday (6 p.m.).
"I think we are playing our best basketball since Pontiac," Maloney said. "We are closing in on 20 wins for a third straight season and four of the last five. If we continue trending upward, we feel that we have a strong shot at winning our third straight regional title. We still, however, have three tough regular season games to continue our momentum."
Fenwick rocks St. Rita, Leo
The Friars knocked off Chicago Catholic League South champion St. Rita 72-65 in the opening round of the CCL Tournament at the University of Chicago on Sunday. Senior center Dan Dywer scored 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds to pace the Friars. Mike Smith (17 points), Scott Lindsey (15 points) and Tom Planek (10 points) also reached double figures for the Friars. Fenwick (18-7, 8-3 CCL North) also held off the Mustangs with stellar free throw shooting (40-for-45).
Other CCL Tournament upper championship bracket results from the weekend include: De La Salle 63, Loyola 56; St. Joseph 60, Providence 45; Mount Carmel 75, Hales 52. The Friars face host De La Salle tonight (7 p.m.) in the next round of the tournament. Fenwick finished fourth behind Loyola, St. Joseph and Mount Carmel in the CCL North during the regular season.
On Friday, the Friars called on solid defense and a significant rebounding/scoring advantage inside to defeat host Leo 64-50. Smith paced the victors with 17 points, followed by Dwyer and Planek (14 points apiece). Lindsey contributed 10 points. Darius Oliver scored a game-high 26 points for the Lions.