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Darien, IL - Friday, November 30, 2012: Hinsdale South's Marcel Phillips (3) vs Willowbrook. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
A wild comeback in front of a raucous home crowd against a heated conference rival: Hinsdale South’s 71-70 win over Willowbrook featured just about every element a high school basketball fan could ask for.
“I’m 34-years old but I’m going to have grey hair and a heart attack,” first-year Hornets coach Tanner Mitchell said. “But that was fun. That’s what high school basketball is all about.”
“The crowd was great,” Hornets senior D.J. Deolitsis said. “They really got us going.”
Willowbrook led 31-20 at halftime in the West Suburban Gold opener and stretched its lead to 18 points in the third quarter, thanks to a defense that forced turnovers and a bevy of shooters with hot hands.
The Warriors led 52-48 after three quarters before Hinsdale South (2-3, 1-0) earned a 33-18 scoring edge in the fourth. Deolitsis scored 11 of his 13 points in the final frame while post player Stefan Kaplarevic scored six off the bench and took a pivotal charge with 16 seconds left and his side trailing by a point.
The game’s fate finally found its way into the hands of junior Hornet Larry Motuzis. Hinsdale South had not led since 6-5 early in the first quarter, but with 6.9 seconds left Motuzis (23 points) hit two clutch free throws to give the Hornets a 71-70 lead and the win.
“It’s hard to block out the crowd in that situation,” Motuzis said. “You just have to stay calm and knock it down. The key to the game for us was our full-court [defense] and it got us a lot of turnovers and quick scores to get us back in the game.”
Willowbrook’s Edvinas Mickevicius missed a three-pointer at the final buzzer, after the junior had gone 10-of-12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to help the Warriors maintain the lead. Mickevicius finished 13-of-16 from the line and scored 17 points, while teammate Adam Hill led the Warriors with 18 points. Tiger Greene finished with 12 points for Willowbrook.