Its probably asking a lot of a basketball team to have to play an extra session for the third time in its last four games.
Its probably asking a lot of team to try to match up with an opponent that can field a lineup with three guys measuring 6-foot-8 or better.
And its probably asking a lot of a team to try to keep the game close, let alone maintain a lead, when its leading scorer gets helped off the court after injuring a leg diving over the opponents bench to try to steal a ball.
All told, it was too was too much to overcome Friday night for Schaumburg in a 32-30 overtime loss to tall, talented Oak Park-River Forest in the finals of the Glenbard North Class 4A regional.
It was a bitter pill for Mid-Suburban League champ Schaumburg (17-11), which controlled the game with a patient tempo against OPRFs lengthy frontline but could only knock down 9 of 28 field goal attempts. OPRF surged back and forced overtime when guard Jason Gant (9 points) sparked a fourth-quarter rally that turned the contest into a seesaw affair before Schaumburgs Kyle Bolger (19 points) essentially forced the overtime with 2 free throws with 1:29 left.
A helter-skelter finish from there produced no points, a lot yelping from both benches as they begged for calls, floor burns galore and a Coles Reyes tip attempt off a lob at the buzzer that came up short.
The Saxons had frustrated OPRF with quick feet on defense to minimize lightning-quick Erick Lockes penetration to the rim while Bolger, with help from Ryan Kase and Jimmy Lundquist, pestered the Huskies on the other end. Bobby Green came off the bench to help neutralize OPRFs massive frontline.
Schaumburg ran out of fuel in overtime as Bolger, playing essentially on one leg after crashing out of bounds diving for a ball in the third quarter, managed all 3 of Schaumburgs points. But the Huskies (20-7), revitalized by their fourth-quarter rally, got a key early field goal in OT from big Tacourrus Mattox and clinching free throws from Alex Gustafson and Gant.
It was a reflective Saxons squad that left the building after a lengthy postgame locker room session.
We played well. We fought to the end. We played great defense, said a monotone, exhausted Bolger, the senior who termed four years of Schaumburg basketball the greatest experience of my life, and called his teammates brothers. Ill always have their backs. They always have mine.
These kids are second to none, said Schaumburg coach Matt Walsh, whose team made a fourth straight regional final appearance after three titles, two sectional final appearances and two MSL titles in the last four years.
Theyre winners, he went on, because of how hard they work.
So are the victorious Huskies. We simulate these situations in practice, OPRF coach Matt Maloney said of the pressure-filled final quarter and overtime. And he attributed part of the ability to rally because of Schaumburgs patience against his teams zone.
OPRF advances to sectional semifinal play Wednesday at Schaumburg, against York. Schaumburg, meanwhile, may still be reflecting over this game that got away.
They played as hard and competed as well as they possibly could, said Walsh.