(Glenview Announcements) For the seventh time this season, the Glenbrook South boys basketball team lost a game it was leading or narrowly trailing in the fourth quarter.
But after Friday’s 49-46 heart-breaker at Evanston, which saw a potentially game-tying three-pointer blocked at the buzzer, the mood in the GBS locker room was not as dour as one might have expected.
After all, the Titans (5-12, 1-4) were coming off a two-game winning streak, and head coach Scott Nemecek said he’d been encouraged by his team’s recent play.
“No question, our guys are getting a lot better,” the coach said. “If we continue playing like this, a regional championship is not beyond our imagination.”
Glenbrook South led for much of the first half, before Evanston (12-4, 3-2) turned the tables with an early third-quarter run.
Trailing by six points early in the fourth, GBS fought back to within a point at 44-43 with 2:50 remaining. The Titans trailed by two after senior Jamie Nikitas converted a three-point play with 44 seconds left.
Evanston senior guard Josh Irving put his team up by three after hitting the first of two free throws with 11 seconds remaining. When he missed the second, GBS got the rebound, drove down the court and got the ball to junior guard Josh Arenson. But his three-point attempt was blocked by Wildkits senior guard Bobby Clayborn as time expired.
Nemecek said the play had been designed to go to Nikitas, but that Arenson was option No. 2.
“We didn’t run a real good set play, but we swung the ball to a good three-point shooter,” the coach said. “But they happened to close out well.”
Nemecek said he was pleased with his team’s play in the first half and encouraged by its resilience after trailing in the fourth. The team’s only major lull came right after the break, when it was outscored 11-4 and saw a three-point halftime lead turn into a five-point deficit.
“It’s very encouraging. It’s fun to work with these guys, and they definitely have turned a corner,” Nemecek said. “We are playing good people, so it has to be a 32-minute affair. For the first 16 minutes (on Friday), I’m not saying we dominated, but we were in pretty good control for a lot of those minutes. For the first four minutes in the third quarter, we were not in real good control. But we battled back. These guys didn’t stop, didn’t quit.”
Junior guard Matt Siegel also said his team’s poor start to the third quarter proved heavily responsible for the defeat. But, like his coach, Siegel believes the Titans are moving in the right direction.
“We didn’t start the second half very well,” he said. “They had a nice run. We have to play four solid quarters. We had them beat in stretches, but we let up in stretches and that really hurt us. But the arrow is definitely pointing up. I applaud my teammates’ effort. You look into their eyes and you know they played their heart out. We’re going to continue to do so, and come out next week and take it out on our next opponent.”
Glenbrook South junior Justin Busiel had a third straight strong game, leading the way with 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Nikitas scored 10 points and Siegel had five.
Glenbrook South defeated Palatine 58-51 on Jan. 10. The Titans made two big comebacks, from a 14-4 first-quarter deficit and from a 46-38 hole in the third. Busiel led the way with 22 points, and Siegel had 13.
The Titans visit Waukegan at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Wheeling at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.