OPRF loses focus but beats Glenbrard North in playoff opener
Carol Stream, 02/2713--Oak Park River Forest's Jason Gant goes up for a shot as Glenbard North's Chip Flanigan tries to block. Glenbard North High School hosted Oak Park River Forest High School in a Class 4A regional semifinal boys basketball game Wednesday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 18, 2013 12:43AM
CAROL STREAM — Oak Park-River Forest hasn’t won back-to-back boys basketball regional championships since 1991-92.
The Huskies could be well on their way after a too-close-for-comfort 61-55 win over host Glenbard North in a Class 4A regional semifinal Wednesday.
The Huskies took the lead 28-18 in the first half, but Glenbard North crept up and became a whole different team.
“That’s kind of the story of our season,” said OPRF head coach Matt Maloney. “We had an opportunity to extend that lead early but we just get too comfortable. I talked to them about that sense of urgency, playing every possession like it’s your last.”
Third-seeded Glenbard North gained control and was poised to carry a lead into the fourth, but OPRF guard Erick Locke (14 points) knocked down a buzzer-beating 3 to tie it up at 40.
“I could see some of the guys’ faces were down so I was trying to have us at least go into the fourth tied up,” Locke said. “I just made sure I did whatever I could to get the bucket.”
Teammate Tacourrus Mattox (16 points) said that while they were able to force seven turnovers in the first half, the Huskies’ defense wasn’t nearly as strong in the second half.
“We kind of lost it,” he said. “We took it too lightly once we got that lead. Coach was telling us to keep putting pressure on them and we just didn’t do that.”
Alex Gustafson scored eight points for the Huskies. Glenbard North’s Justin Jackson scored 13 and Chip Flannigan 11.
“I give Glenbard North a ton of credit,” said Maloney. “They battled. We knew they were much better in their seed (18); they were one of the teams we didn’t want to see in the first round.”
Oak Park-River Forest advanced to play 11th-seeded Schaumburg, which upset No. 6 Malone on Wednesday.
“We have confidence knowing we beat Schaumburg in the past,” Maloney said. “With only one day to prepare that gives them some incentive.”