Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great game last night... Park Ridge! Niles West overcame a ten-point deficit at the half to defeat Glenbrook North in overtime, 53-51.

It would be hard to improve on the account in the Sun-Times, especially this:

But the Spartans, as they have been wont to do this winter, couldn’t hold the lead.

“It’s pretty much what has happened to us all year,” Glenbrook North coach David Weber said. “We’ve lost a lot of leads..."

The guy who sat next to me told me as much.

Yes, it was a great game, but it didn't look that way when Glenbrook North was leading, 17-5, at the end of the first quarter. Nor at the half, when the Spartans were ahead by ten, 25-15. No, my thoughts were more along the line of, What the heck am I doing in this gym? 

After all, I could have gone to see Naperville Central against Naperville North, which the Red Hawks won in overtime. Or my original choice for the night, Waukegan - Prospect, which turned out to be a good game too. I could have seen a twin-bill at Hoffman Estates (that's two for the price of one), Glenbard East vs. Glenbard West at 6:00, followed by Riverside-Brookfield and Conant at 7:30, in which the Cougars upset the No. 5 seed R-B, 67-61!

Heck, I even considered -- if for only a delusional moment -- driving all the way out to Rockford to see No. 2 Auburn square off against No. 3 Boylan Catholic. (Good thing I didn't; the Titans beat their cross-town rivals like a rented mule, 52-35.)

No, I chose to stay in the Northbrook Sectional, partly because (I have to admit) the games are close to home.

As the music blared at halftime (I so desperately wanted to shout, Turn that $#*! down!) I struck up (or tried to) a conversation with the man and his son sitting next to me. Turns out the guy had another son on the GBN team and his older boy (who played with the legendary Jon Scheyer) was a coach at one of the public schools in the city.

I was genuinely surprised (and reassured) when the guy's son told me that he thought the Northbrook Sectional was the second-best in the state, behind Argo (the one with Simeon and Whitney Young).

"Really?" I said. So I didn't make a mistake by coming here?

(By the way, I'm sure everyone thinks their sectional is the second-best in the state.)

Who knows? I thought. Maybe the second half will be better.

Hoo boy, was it ever!

I thought long and hard (well, not that long and hard) about what picture to put at the top of this post. There were so many Niles West players that contributed that it would have been hard to single one out. So I decided on coach Bob Williams, because he must have given those guys one heck of a pep talk at the half. The Niles West team that took the court after intermission bore no resemblance to the one in the first half. It's not that Glenbrook North played any differently or any worse, it's just that the Wolves were positively inspired. (I noticed Williams yelling at one of his players during a timeout in the first half and thought, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that!)

So Niles West ended up winning and will now face No. 1 seed Maine South in the latter's home gym. Can the Skokie squad pull off another miracle? I don't know and won't be there to see it. I'll be at Loyola Academy instead, watching the host Ramblers take on Niles North. (More on that later.)

In the meantime, is this a great sectional, or what?

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