By Brad Spencer
It was just last season when the OPRF boys basketball team halted Lyons Township’s remarkable win-streak at 23 games in Oak Park. A television crew was on hand to capture the moment. The Dawg Pound, OPRF’s rowdy student section located on the south end of the court, was hopping with body painted fans. At the final buzzer, the score was OPRF 59, Lyons 55 and the Huskies were quickly blanketed by a sea of burnt orange and blue.
Well, the Lions roll back into town this Friday night (7:30 p.m.) and the match-up should be just as entertaining as last year’s. Lyons is undefeated in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference with a 3-0 mark, as is OPRF.
“I don’t know if any game can duplicate that energy and atmosphere [of last year’s match-up],” said OPRF head coach Matt Maloney. “That is a game that I will always remember. We can only hope to have a similar environment as last season’s clash. That was a great high school basketball game for the players, coaches, students and the community. It was the best of what high school sports should be about.”
The Lions are loaded with experience and talent this season, most notably seniors Spencer Mahoney, Eric Powers, Mark Sewall, Nick Burt and Illinois State-bound Nick Zeisloft. The team entered this week 12-2 overall, but they are vulnerable. The sharp-shooting Lions can have an off-night, like their 79-55 loss to Riverside-Brookfield early last month. The Lions shot 28 percent from the field, hitting just 1 of 18 three-point attempts.
Led by junior Ka’Darryl Bell, the Huskies are young, but they proved menacing with their recent 73-66 victory at Proviso West. Bell scored 22 points against the Panthers. The Huskies seemed to have regrouped after losing to difficult opponents — West Aurora and Schaumburg — in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Seniors Josh Lang, Brian Miller and Steve Ramsey could play vital roles in Friday’s match-up.
“This is a big game for us; however, we feel as though the pressure is on LT,” added Maloney. “While we had a huge upset victory against Proviso West last weekend, LT and Proviso were picked to win the conference. This will be a great measuring stick for us and some of our younger players.”
Will the Dawg Pound be alive and howling?