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The OPRF boys basketball team will get another shot at unbeaten conference rival Lyons Township on Feb. 19. Until then, Lyons Township’s 57-52 win on Friday night will be remembered by the Huskies as the one that got away.
Up 40-35 entering the fourth quarter, OPRF couldn’t hold off host LT as senior forward Dan Lalonde scored all 13 of his points in the period to ignite the Lions’ late-game rally.
“This is one [game] we thought we were going to get, we hoped to get,” said OPRF coach Matt Maloney. “Hopefully, we’ll take care of business at our place.”
With Lyons (16-0, 6-0 West Suburban Silver) clinging to a 55-52 lead, the Huskies’ Jeff Stanciel-Wynn missed a three-pointer in the closing seconds, after which Lalonde recovered the game-tying attempt and raced down court for a two-handed dunk at the final buzzer. Celebrating their Blackout Night, a sea of LT fans stormed the court.
“This was the most fun I’ve had in basketball,” Lalonde said. “I started being way more aggressive on the offensive end [in the fourth quarter].”
During a particularly critical stretch in the final few minutes of the fourth, OPRF (14-4, 5-2) held a 48-43 lead. But Lalonde scored the next seven points to give LT the lead 50-48 with 2:10 remaining. Both OPRF big men, Jeff Dirkin and Aaron Levin, were saddled with foul trouble. Dirkin ended up fouling out in the fourth.
“Obviously, when Jeff fouled out that hurt,” Maloney said. “He’s a defensive presence who can block shots and one of our senior leaders. Overall, I thought our defense really caused problems for them.”
After OPRF sophomore guard Ka’Darryl Bell split a pair of free throws to make it 50-49, Lalonde scored an inside basket (assisted by Nick Zeisloft) and LT point guard Jimmy Stamas added a free throw to make the score 53-49 with 38 seconds remaining.
On the next possession, OPRF senior guard Antonio Foster banked in a three-pointer under heavy duress to cut Lyons Township’s lead to 53-52. Zeisloft then sank a pair of free throws for the Lions, making it 55-52 before Lalonde’s jam closed the riveting action.
“This was a sectional game, it was that type of atmosphere,” said Maloney. “It was cool to see that type of school spirit and a hostile crowd, and to see how we would react to it. For 30 out of 32 minutes, I thought we were phenomenal.
“Just a couple of key plays in the final two minutes that we didn’t make when we kind of had the game under control.”
Mortell Flowers (9 points) and Dirkin (7 points, 8 rebounds) paced the Huskies’ attack, while Antonio Foster and Levin chipped in eight points apiece.
Lalonde led LT with a game-high 13 points and six rebounds, while Nick Burt (10 points, 4 rebounds) and Nick Zeisloft (8 points) also played well. Junior guard Spencer Mahoney provided a lift off the LT bench by scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds.
On Saturday, the Huskies rediscovered their winning ways with a 69-54 victory over Glenbard West. Stanciel-Wynn scored 17, while John Weinheimer contributed 12 points and six steals. Levin finished with 11 points.
“We’re 14-4 and our losses have been to difficult teams like LT, York, Mt. Carmel and Peoria Manual,” Maloney said. “I’m really proud the way our guys have come together.”
The Huskies travel to York on Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. game.