By Brad Spencer
UPDATE: The Schaumburg Sectional semifinal game of OPRF boys basketball vs. York has been moved from Wednesday night to Thursday night (7:30 p.m.).
A total of just 19 shots were made from the field by both teams in five quarters, but the OPRF basketball team outlasted Schaumburg for a 32-30 overtime victory to win the Class 4A Glenbard North Regional championship in Carol Stream on Friday night.
With the win, the Huskies (19-9) secured back-to-back regional titles for the first time since 1992 and advanced to take on West Suburban (Silver) Conference rival York (21-7) in the semifinal of the Schaumburg Sectional on March 7 (7:30 p.m.). OPRF split a pair of games against the Dukes during the regular season.
On Friday night, the Huskies got its revenge on Schaumburg (19-10), who knocked them out of the state playoffs last season, but it didn't come easy. Alex Gustafson bucketed what ended up being the game-winning free throws for OPRF with nine seconds left in overtime. They were the senior's first points of the game. Schaumburg's Kyle Bolger scored a quick layup to put the game at 32-30, and had Huskies fans gasping on a last-ditch heave from halfcourt that bounced off the backboard in the closing seconds.
Defenses, most notably OPRF's trapping zone, prevailed in this contest as both team's struggled to get the ball in the hoop. The Huskies trailed 17-13 at halftime, and the two teams finished regulation tallying just 27 points apiece. The extra stanza ended up OPRF 5, Schaumburg 3.
The Huskies connected on 10-of-31 shots from the field and 12-of-22 from the charity stripe. Schaumburg didn't fare much better, making 9-of-29 from the field, including just 3-of-13 three-point attempts.
Bolger led all scorers with 19 points, while OPRF's Erick Locke was the Huskies' lone player to score in double digits with 10.
The Huskies reached the regional championship by knocking off Glenbard North 61-55 in the semifinals. OPRF jumped off to a 16-7 lead in the first quarter and led by 10 at the break of that game. Glenbard North rallied in the third, outscoring OPRF 22-12 to even the score at 40-40 going into the final period where the Huskies dominated.
OPRF's Kejuan Saulsberry came off the bench to score six points and TK Mattox had a monstrous dunk to hush Glenbard North's home crowd.
"We wanted to use our size advantage," said Maloney of the matchup with Glenbard North. "Unfortunately, we did not take advantage of that from the beginning; however, our guards, specifically Erick Locke found TK in the second half for some big buckets in the paint."
Mattox led all scorers with a season-high 19 points in the game to go along with seven rebounds. The 6-foot-7 senior finished with eight points against Schaumburg.
"He was huge," said Maloney of the 6-foot-7 center's performance in the semifinal. "We needed that lift from one of our bigs."
Locke added 14 points for the Huskies, while dishing out seven assists. Gustafson rounded out OPRF's double-digit scorers with 10 points.
"Our regional and sectional have always been one of the toughest, even the most difficult in the state," said Maloney. "Many coaches would say winning our regional was the equivalent of winning a sectional in other parts of the state."
The Huskies will be shooting for their second consecutive 20-win season when they face Colorado State-bound David Cohn and the Dukes on Wednesday night.
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