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- More from Marty Maciaszek
The "we first" attitude Schaumburg's boys basketball team embraced all season was easy to sustain when everything was going well.
But how would it hold up when things started taking a turn for the worse? Such as the rash of turnovers at the worst possible times against unbeaten Proviso East in Friday's Class 4A sectional final.
This was a character-revealing moment as the Saxons saw their third straight sectional final appearance and season quickly slipping away.
And it revealed they were all in this together for better or worse in a 78-39 defeat before a sellout crowd at Schaumburg.
No fingers were pointed. No one shot a disgusted look at someone else.
"We're like brothers and we're always together," said Schaumburg junior guard Kyle Bolger. "We know it's a team game and if someone isn't playing as well as they can we know we need to pick them up.
"We stayed together the whole game. That's why we're so close and why we were so successful."
The Saxons were successful 24 times in 30 tries for the third-best season in program history. Their problem Friday night was running into a Proviso East team that hasn't lost in the 30 times it's stepped on the court this year and showed how intent it is on getting a shot at a fifth state title.
"They played great and we weren't hitting shots," Bolger said. "But I'm proud of everyone on the team."
A team that truly bought into what third-year head coach Matt Walsh wanted.
"This is a real special group," Walsh said. "Hardworking. Unselfish. They've been just a joy to coach. They're just a bunch of winners."
The last two years the Saxons produced Cinderella stories as a double-digit seed making runs to sectional championship games.
This year they were the hunted team everyone wanted to take out. It took one of the state's best teams to finally knock out the Saxons.
But the disappointment will eventually subside and be replaced by how much fun they had because of the way they played the game.
"I'll never forget the guys on this team," said an emotion-filled all-area captain and third-year starter Christian Spandiary after his final game in a Schaumburg uniform. "It's the greatest group.
"It was probably the most unselfish team I've been a part of in my entire life. We would do whatever it takes to win."
Bolger displayed that attitude by never backing down and continuing to fearlessly attack Proviso East's relentless crew of guards.
Just a few weeks ago his status was in question with a shoulder injury. But now he was driving fearlessly into the lane, which included an acrobatic 360-degree spin through traffic late in the third quarter.
"It was just heart because that's what we needed," Bolger said.
"Kyle has no fear," Walsh said. "He put his time in the off-season and he's such a tough, hard-nosed, skilled player.
"You really see how good of a player he is when you go against these elite teams. He's such a competitor."
The Saxons had a bunch of them with seniors such as Spandiary, Michael Mallett, Joey Faleni, Justin Hill and injured guard Thomas Byrne.
Bolger will be back to lead the way to more success next year. So will two-year starter Jimmy Lundquist, guard Cole Reyes and forward Bobby Greene, who drew a pair of charging fouls. And juniors Kevin Curnow and Carlos Sarasti got valuable time when Bolger was hurt.
"The juniors next year will do a phenomenal job and will do great things," Spandiary said.
Especially if they don't lose the attitude that made them win Mid-Suburban League, MSL West and regional title.
"We never give up until the final horn," Bolger said. "That's what we always do."
With the emphasis accurately placed on we.