OPRF stunned by Lake Park in Class 4A boys basketball playoffs

Huskies close another successful season on disappointing note

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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

Despite his team carrying a No. 3 seed in the Bartlett Sectional and plenty of momentum into the playoffs, Oak Park and River Forest High School head basketball coach Matt Maloney was leery of the inherently dangerous nature of postseason upsets. Maloney and the Huskies' worst fears were realized when No. 14 seed Lake Park shocked OPRF 51-48 in a regional semifinal game of the Leyden Regional.

"It was the perfect storm," Maloney said. "Unfortunately, we did not execute the way we had in the previous six games. I will take the blame for not having the team ready for battle."

Even more agonizing was the manner in which OPRF let the game slip away. After establishing a 30-20 halftime lead, the Huskies were outscored 31-18 in the second half by the Lancers en route to their 51-48 setback and surprisingly early postseason exit.

Senior point guard Erick Locke, who enjoyed an outstanding regular season, scored a game-high 20 points but struggled at the free throw line, sinking only 11 of 19 attempts. During the final 30 seconds of the game, he went particularly cold missing seven straight free throw attempts. Locke also tallied four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Simmie Cobbs added 13 points and seven rebounds for OPRF, while fellow senior Jason Gant netted seven points.

The Huskies (20-7) shot poorly against the Lancers at the free throw line (18-for-32) and from behind the three-point arc (2-for-11).

Sean Moore led Lake Park (16-14) with 12 points and Cameron Van Aswegen chipped in eight points for the victors, who advance to face Glenbard North in the Leyden Regional championship game on Friday.

As for the Huskies, several key players like Locke, Cobbs, Gant and center Javonni Harrell will graduate, but other promising players return such as Elliot Greffin, Dallis Flowers and Connor Fuller.

"Elliot and Dallis contributed valuable minutes this year and will have an opportunity to expand their roles for their senior campaign," Maloney said. "At the end of the season, we had sophomores Connor Fuller, Breshawn Wilkerson and Liam Shannon getting valuable experience with the squad. Furthermore, our freshmen A and B teams won conference championships."

Overall, OPRF turned in another excellent campaign under Maloney, topping 20 wins for the third straight season and four out of the past five years. The Huskies were shooting for a third straight regional title, a feat previously only accomplished once before (1951-1953).

OPRF opened the season by winning the Riverside Brookfield VandeMerkt Tournament as Locke garnered MVP honors. The Huskies earned third place at the presigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament over the Christmas break. Their most notable result came via 48-47 loss to defending state champion, Simeon.

"We finished in the top four at Pontiac and were one possession away from playing in the championship game. This is the first year in quite some time to finish that high."

OPRF also closed the regular season on a six-game winning streak and had won 10 of 12 overall before the loss to Lake Park.

"I was proud of all of our seniors, their efforts, contributions and dedication to our program," Maloney said. "The new faces to the program earned a permanent place in our family and we look forward to having them back in the years to come to speak about their experiences, lessons learned and advice for future Huskies."

 

Lake Park wasn't the least bit scared of Oak Park-River Forest's lofty sectional seeding.

The No. 14-seeded Lancers stunned the No. 3 Huskies 51-48 in a Class 4A Leyden Regional semifinal game Tuesday night in Franklin Park.

"This is our first big win [this season] but we've been in those kind of close games before," said Lake Park senior Sean Moore, who led his team with 12 points. "I thought we were well prepared for a close game tonight and it was all about believing,"

OPRF (20-7) had its chances to beat the Lancers (16-14). The Huskies let a 10-point halftime lead slip away and star shooting guard Erick Locke (20 points), normally automatic from the foul line, missed seven straight free throws in the last 30 seconds. The last one was on purpose as OPRF was down 51-48 with 4.9 seconds to play.

Lake Park's Cameron Van Aswegen was fouled with 4.5 seconds left but he missed both tries, giving the Huskies one last chance. OPRF's Elliot Greffin tossed a long jump ball to Simmie Cobbs, who swung it to Dallis Flowers for a final shot. But the junior's long 3-pointer at the buzzer came up short and Lake Park advanced to Friday's regional final.

"I thought really the turning point was in the first three minutes of the second half where we were up 10 and allowed them to get some easy ones right away," OPRF head coach Matt Maloney said. "Then we really tightened up."

- See more at: http://www.highschoolcubenews.com/news_article/show/356567?referrer_id=608245#sthash.F9DecOJ9.dpuf

Lake Park wasn't the least bit scared of Oak Park-River Forest's lofty sectional seeding.

The No. 14-seeded Lancers stunned the No. 3 Huskies 51-48 in a Class 4A Leyden Regional semifinal game Tuesday night in Franklin Park.

"This is our first big win [this season] but we've been in those kind of close games before," said Lake Park senior Sean Moore, who led his team with 12 points. "I thought we were well prepared for a close game tonight and it was all about believing,"

OPRF (20-7) had its chances to beat the Lancers (16-14). The Huskies let a 10-point halftime lead slip away and star shooting guard Erick Locke (20 points), normally automatic from the foul line, missed seven straight free throws in the last 30 seconds. The last one was on purpose as OPRF was down 51-48 with 4.9 seconds to play.

Lake Park's Cameron Van Aswegen was fouled with 4.5 seconds left but he missed both tries, giving the Huskies one last chance. OPRF's Elliot Greffin tossed a long jump ball to Simmie Cobbs, who swung it to Dallis Flowers for a final shot. But the junior's long 3-pointer at the buzzer came up short and Lake Park advanced to Friday's regional final.

"I thought really the turning point was in the first three minutes of the second half where we were up 10 and allowed them to get some easy ones right away," OPRF head coach Matt Maloney said. "Then we really tightened up."

- See more at: http://www.highschoolcubenews.com/news_article/show/356567?referrer_id=608245#sthash.F9DecOJ9.dpuf

Contact:
Email: marty@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

3 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Huskie  

Posted: March 12th, 2014 11:18 PM

Another Choke Job

michael mrkvicka from river forest  

Posted: March 7th, 2014 9:42 PM

once again great regular season and one and done in the playoffs. Too much talent to play so poorly in big games, the players and coaching staff have to look in the mirror and figure out how a three seed gets bounced in the first game. so disappointing because the effort does not equal the talent on this team!

Paul from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2014 6:27 PM

Nice season, but what a waste of talent. This team should've went deep into the playoffs.

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