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Mundelein's Sam Nelson works the baseline with Zion-Benton's Mubarak Bakr defending. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
To a man, Mundelein knew exactly what it had to do Friday in Zion. Keep the ball out of Milik Yarbrough’s hands, and if he gets it, try to force him to pass.
Cliff Dunigan, a 6-2 senior, kept himself attached to the 6-6 Yarbrough. When Yarbrough did get the ball, Mustangs coach Richard Knar would start waving his hands on the sideline, reminding his team to come help.
“We wanted to run one guy at him and hope he gave up the ball,” Knar said. “If someone else is going to beat us, that’s fine.”
The plan worked to perfection. Yarbrough was contained, no other Zion-Benton player stepped up and Mundelein rolled to an 84-64 upset of the No. 12 Zee-Bees.
“Coach told me that I had [Yarbrough] and I couldn’t leave him at all,” Dunigan said. “So I didn’t leave him the entire game. The goal was to keep that ball out of his hands because once he gets it, there isn’t much you can do.”
Yarbrough still scored 21 points and had seven rebounds. He shot 8-for-13 from the field. Yarbrough can take 13 shots in half of a typical game for Zion-Benton (9-2, 5-1)
The Mustangs have their own multi-talented star. Southern Illinois recruit Sean O’Brien might be the area’s most well-rounded player. The 6-7 senior is comfortable playing every position, and he displayed it all, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.
“He has been like that all year,” Knar said. “He’s got every skill, he’s tough to guard. If you put a small guy on him he will post up, if you put a big guy on him he’ll drive right by him.”
Dunigan also contributed on the offensive side, with 15 points and eight rebounds. Quinn Pokora scored a game-high 23, Dylan Delaquila had 11 and Chino Ebube added 10 points and five rebounds for the Mustangs (6-4, 4-1 North Suburban Lake).
It was emotional night for Mundelein. Jim Ackley, the Mustangs’ scorekeeper for 50 years, died on Tuesday. The team wore warmups with Ackley’s name and the number 50 on the back, and also had 50 patches on the uniform. Ackley was 82.
“It was definitely emotional for us,” Pokora said. “My mom sewed those 50 patches on all of our jerseys. We wanted this win for him.”