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Erick Locke scored 12 points as Oak Park-River Forest avenged last year’s class 4A Sectional semifinal loss by beating Schaumburg 50-40.
Locke got the Huskies on the board early, scoring the first seven points of the game with a mixture of drives and spot up shooting.
Schaumburg didn’t back down though, coming into the game with an obvious gameplan to control the tempo.
Over-matched on paper, the Saxons were able to slow the game down enough to soften the blow of the Husky three-headed monster of seniors Thomas Ross (6-8), Tacourrus Mattox (6-7) and Virgil Allen (6-9).
The Saxons were lead by another inspired performance from senior guard Kyle Bolger who finished the game with 11 points, three assists and two steals.
That game plan and a scrappy defensive effort as a team forced seven turnovers by Oak Park-River Forest in the second half to keep the score close.
But Huskies senior guard Alex Gustafson had other plans scoring 10 of his 13 points in the second half to help Oak Park extend its lead.
Ross was a force on the glass for the Huskies, grabbing eight rebounds to go with his five points.
“I felt at the beginning of the season I didn’t play my role,” Ross said. “I stepped it up on the rebounding and defensive side. The key is positioning, and it doesn’t hurt to be 6-7.’’
Oak Park senior guard Jakari Cammon struggled in the second half, committing four turnovers at crucial moments. But Cammon finished strong, stripping Schaumburg’s Cole Reyes with 30 seconds left before being fouled on a drive to the hoop.
His made free throw put the Huskies up 47-40 and put the game out of reach.
“It was huge. That steal was huge,” Oak Park River-Forest head coach Matt Maolney said. “Sometimes I get on him about those turnovers but he finds a way to make it up and makes some unbelievable plays.
“We had a great week of practice that got us ready for some physical games. I feel like we’re starting to see the chemistry form on this team and guys are playing well together,” Maloney said.