Bogan can’t be broken
Bengals overpower Vikings, win championship
One of these days maybe St. Laurence will benefit from a soft-touch semifinal.
That certainly hasn’t happened the past two years, when the Vikings won a play-in contest to earn a date with the eventual regional champion. A year ago, it was Morgan Park; this time, Bogan mowed down St. Laurence at the latter’s own Class 3A regional last Tuesday.
The Bengals outscored the Vikings in every quarter, but it was a 20-6 second period that shoved St. Laurence into an inescapable hole. That Bogan surge put the Vikings in arrears by 20 points, and they eventually suffered a 78-50 defeat in Burbank.
That loss followed St. Laurence’s 60-43 conquest of Gage Park on Monday. The Vikings ended the 2013-14 season at 6-22.
“A lot of those close games and tight losses during the season put us in the position we were in,” St. Laurence coach Mark Sevedge said, referring to the challenging semifinal matchup. “We didn’t do ourselves any favors.
“That’s something I don’t think kids realize: how important each game is. They look at your numbers - the more wins you have, the higher your seed, no matter who you played. This was something we’d been preaching to our kids since September, [that] we were playing to get a good seed.”
Even under normal circumstances, the Vikings would have faced an uphill climb versus the Bengals. But for a short time, it appeared as if Bogan would be one of the schools held out of the state tournament due to having scheduled too many games during the regular season.
The Bengals were, in fact, briefly ousted, but then got reinstated. In Sevedge’s opinion, that situation worked to stir up Bogan players’ emotions.
“They were hungry,” he said. “I think they came in with extra motivation.”
St. Laurence hung with the Bengals for a while, but it had no satisfactory response for Bogan’s aforementioned second-quarter tear, which was fueled by a trio of 3-point baskets.
While the Bengals made good on 31-of-53 field-goal tries for the game, the Vikings’ accuracy rate was substantially less. St. Laurence hit just 17-of-46 shots and compounded its difficulties with seven missed free throws and 15 turnovers.
“We couldn’t really cut back into it,” Sevedge said of his club’s deficit. “We couldn’t overcome their defensive pressure and we forced some shots. They were not allowing us to get any good looks at the basket.”
Matt Gurgone and Quentin Forberg were the Vikings’ top two producers with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Romello Radford was right behind them with nine markers, and Dan Cummings wound up as St. Laurence’s leader in both rebounds (five) and assists (two).
St. Laurence 60
Gage Park 43
The uncertainty about Bogan’s and Hyde Park’s presence in the regional meant everyone else was also dealing with degrees of it. For the Vikings, that meant preparing for Urban Prep/Bronzeville before learning Gage Park - which had been designated as their original play-in opponent before the confusion ensued - was again on the docket.
“It was unbelievable,” Sevedge said. “I honestly wasn’t sure leading up to the game who we’d be playing. We had film of Urban Prep/Bronzeville and we got ourselves ready. I thought we were pretty prepared, then we had one day to try to get hold of tape of Gage Park.
“We didn’t get anything. [The] HighSchoolCube [website]’s been a help during the regular season, but they took every team down. There was not much we were able to find out.”
Sevedge did know the Owls had “some decent athletes, so it was definitely not a team we were going to just come out on the floor and roll over.” That was true enough, as Gage Park was within a point of St. Laurence after 24 minutes.
But the fourth quarter was all Vikings, as they peeled off an early 12-0 run to set the tone in what became a 23-7 scoring differential. Critical in that burst were the pair of technical fouls called on the Owls coach, which led to three Cummings free throws and a Radford hoop that extended a four-point advantage to nine.
“They started coming down the floor and firing [after that] - and not open looks,” Sevedge said of Gage Park. “We started getting after them defensively and forced them into some quick shots and some bad shots. It seemed like one-and-done [for them] every possession.”
Gurgone (16 points, two steals), Radford (12 points) and Forberg (eight points, three assists) were St. Laurence’s catalysts, but measurable help also came from Cummings (seven points) and Rich Lamb (five points, eight rebounds, three assists). The Vikings hit 50 percent of their shots and committed just three turnovers in the second half.
The Owls took 21 more shots than St. Laurence, but sank only one additional basket. They were also outscored by 10 points at the line and out-rebounded 23-20.
Evergreen Park 46
Minus Issac Matthews and Jacquet McClendon in the lineup, the Mustangs entered their regional semifinal game against the Eagles last Tuesday in shorthanded fashion. McClendon was missing because he had picked up two technicals in Evergreen Park’s regular-season finale against Oak Lawn, while Matthews was absent for violating a team rule.
“That’s our leading scorer and one of our better rebounders and defenders,” Mustangs coach Pat Flannigan said of Matthews and McClendon, respectively. “It was definitely two big holes [to fill].”
Then just to further complicate matters, Evergreen (13-14) went through a lengthy scoring drought over the middle two periods. The Mustangs notched only two field goals in a span that extended beyond nine minutes, and Lindblom didn’t waste that unanticipated assistance. The Eagles constructed a double-digit edge and carried that into the final frame.
“We shot pretty well in the first quarter,” Flannigan said. “[But then] they started exposing our zone pretty well and getting inside, and we were not in our right spots quite a few times.”
Tyler Sorbellini’s bucket drew Evergreen within 45-40 with 4:21 remaining, but the Mustangs could get no closer. A missed layup that would have sliced the margin to three points pretty much sealed their fate.
Evergreen canned just 37 percent of its attempts from the floor and further hamstrung itself with 22 miscues.
“When they went on their run, a lot of it was [begun] on defense,” Flannigan said of Lindblom. “We were catching the ball too close to the end line and weren’t getting to the middle of the floor quick enough. I know we didn’t have our point guard, but we work on this stuff in practice all the time.
“I don’t know if it was in [our kids’] heads that we didn’t have those guys in the lineup, but we kind of ran out of gas. Maybe it was a confidence factor.”
A 3-pointer and basket by Jordan Brown had pushed the Mustangs out to a 7-2 lead at the start and they were ahead 12-5 after Tony Weathersby converted a three-point play, but then the Eagles stole momentum by embarking on a 12-2 run. Five straight Evergreen turnovers were a big part of the blitz.
Weathersby’s bucket kept the Mustangs on Lindblom’s heels, but then Evergreen experienced yet another dry spell. This one, which didn’t end until Sorbellini knocked down a 3-ball, featured four missed shots, five more turnovers and a pair of errant charity tosses.
Another Sorbellini 3 was delivered in the third quarter, but sandwiching that score were six more miscues and four additional misses from the field. By the time Tobi Oladejo nailed two free throws with 1:41 left in the third period, the Mustangs were down by double figures.
Oladejo was Evergreen’s points leader with 14, which he complemented with four assists and two steals. Weathersby finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and two steals, Sorbellini had eight points, and Alex Cheatham grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
“We did a lot of positive things this season,” Flannigan said. “We were 13-14 and in a lot of games. You can only coach what comes in the door, but we’re teaching and the kids are learning.
“And we’re experiencing different things than basketball, like getting involved in the community. In that respect, I think we’re very successful.”
Gage Park 11 9 16 7 - 43
St. Laurence 6 15 16 23 - 60
St. Laurence Scoring: Gurgone 16, Radford 12, Forberg 8, Cummings 7, Lamb 5, Witkowski 5, Delaney 3, Dan Curley 2, Risley 2. Rebounds: Lamb 8. Assists: Delaney 3, Forberg 3, Lamb 3. Steals: Gurgone 2.
St. Laurence 15 6 11 18 - 50
Bogan 21 20 18 19 - 78
St. Laurence Scoring: Gurgone 11, Forberg 10, Radford 9, Kelly 5, Lamb 5, Condito 3, Risley 3, Dan Curley 2, Don Curley 2. Rebounds: Cummings 5. Assists: Cummings 2. Steals: Cummings 1.
Lindblom 17 8 14 16 - 55
Evergreen Park 14 8 6 18 - 46
Evergreen Park Scoring: Oladejo 14, Weathersby 9, Sorbellini 8, Brown 5, Cheatham 5, Hughes 3, Moran 2. Rebounds: Weathersby 10, Cheatham 7. Assists: Oladejo 4. Steals: Borwn 2, Oladejo 2, Weathersby 2. Blocks: Cheatham 3.