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The Oak Park-River Forest hasn’t won back-to-back regional championships since the 1991-92 season. 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 on Wednesday night.
The Huskies took the lead 28-18 in the first half but Glenbard North creeped up behind them and became a whole different team.
“That’s kind of the story of our season,” said Oak Park-River Forest 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.”
Glenbard North gained control and almost took the lead heading in to the fourth but OPRF’s Erick Locke (14 points) knocked down a buzzer-beating three 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 second wasn’t nearly as strong.
“We kind of lost it,” said Mattox. “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 scored 11.
“I give Glenbard North a ton of credit,” said Maloney. “They battled, we knew they were much better in their seed, they were one of the teams we didn’t want to see in the first round.”
Oak Park-River Forest will go on to play Schaumburg Friday, but Malone isn’t worried.
“We have confidence knowing we beat Schaumburg in the past,” he said.
“With only one day to prepare, that gives them some incentive.”