The OPRF boys basketball team will no doubt be busy in practice this week working on scoring and rebounding in that square space beneath the basket known as "the paint." Had a few things gone their way against Proviso West on Friday night under the hoop, perhaps OPRF wouldn't have had to leave Hillside with a 56-51 loss.
The Huskies were outrebounded 42-33 and had a difficult time containing Lawrence Moore, who led all scorers with 19 points. Tacourrus Mattox led OPRF with 13 points to go along with nine rebounds, while Jason Gant and Erick Locke added 10 points apiece.
The Huskies trailed 28-27 at halftime and matched Proviso West's baskets through the second half, either tying or trailing by one or two in the final two minutes before the Panthers pulled away for good in the closing seconds.
Proviso West has now won its last five conference games.
"Defensively, we took Proviso West out of much of what they like to do," said OPRF head coach Matt Maloney. "We controlled tempo and the boards for most of the night, but we had a difficult time from the field."
OPRF was without senior starting guard Jakari Cammon, who was serving a "school discipline consequence" and was not able to travel with the team, according to Maloney.
Friday's setback signified the defending West Suburban (Silver) Conference champ Huskies dropping behind Hinsdale Central and York in the hunt for this season's title. The team is now 6-3 in the Silver Division and 14-7 overall. They travel to Lyons Township on Friday (7:30 p.m.) and host Glenbard West on Saturday (3 p.m.).
Maloney said the final few conference games are crucial as the Class 4A State playoffs loom.
"We need both victories to give us momentum for the playoffs," he said. "We still believe that we can repeat as regional champions and get back to the sectional floor."