Niles West were in a world of trouble.
Entering the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game against St. Patrick’s, the Wolves found themselves in a 19 point hole, a seemingly impossible situation to overcome.
But just 16 minutes later, not only did Niles West just cut into the large deficit, they ran off the floor with a 64-62 double overtime win after Nick Zerbinopoulos’ game winning put back layup.
Final: Niles West erases a 19 point fourth quarter deficit to win 64-62 in double OT. Nicholas Zerbinopoulos with the putback winner. pic.twitter.com/1gc5tp4AhC
— IL Preps Insider (@ILPrepsInsider) January 10, 2018
“Unbelievable, we could have hung our heads and cried and complained and whined but we didn’t,” said Niles West head coach Mike Wasielewski. “They gutted it out, they really executed down the stretch.
Ball movement was the key for St. Pats in the first half of the game as the Shamrocks assisted on 80% of their field goals.
The ball movement through the high post opened up driving lanes and the three point line for St. Pats as they opened up a 32-20 lead with an extremely balanced scoring attack.
It was more of the same for the Shamrocks in the third quarter as Dominic Galati started to find his shooting touch, hitting two threes in the frame to extend their lead to 49-30 at the end of three quarters.
With a lot of work to do to get back into the game, Niles West started their comeback by tightening the screws defensively.
St. Pats only scored six points in the final quarter, and only managed to convert on a single field goal, an Austin Freeman three pointer.
“We switched defenses like five times just to try anything to stop them,” said Wasielewski. “Them hitting so many threes was a little fools gold because no team continues at that pace but we rebounded really well and forced turnovers down the stretch.”
During that time, Clyde Singleton came alive for the Wolves. After not having scored in the first half of the game, Singleton scored 13 of his game high 23 points in the fourth quarter by getting to the rim and converting form the free throw line.
Singleton said: “We just kept our heads up. The first half I wasn’t scoring but the team brought me up and coach told me at half time don’t let it get to your head.”
Wasielewski added: “I told him at halftime we’re getting shots in the right spaces, we were just coming up short on those shots, so I knew we’d be okay.”
Slowly but surely, Niles West crawled their way back into the contest and found themselves down only two points with less than a minute to go.
On their game tying possession, Niles West secured three offensive rebounds before Richie Noparstak finally got one to fall, sending the game into overtime at 55 a piece.
The first overtime was much less frantic than the fourth quarter, as Niles West held the ball for nearly three minutes, though unable to convert.
A critical error nearly cost Niles West the entire game as St. Pats got the ball underneath their own basket with .7 second left after a full court heave from Niles West hit the opposite wall, but Galati missed a wide open layup.
With St. Pats obtaining the first possession of the second overtime, there was a stark contrast in tempo to the first extra period. The Shamrocks got on the board first, but Niles West managed to come right back.
The teams continued to trade baskets until it looked as though St. Pats would have one last possession to win the game. With Galati trying the dribble down the clock, Noparstak stole the ball ran down the floor and missed the potential game winning layup but Zerbinopoulos was there for the cleanup and the 64-62 win.
“This is going to boost our confidence but I think our guys know that we’re right there and this shows it,” said Wasielewski. “I don’t think we played our best game today and the first half was one of our worst halves all season, but for us to gut out a win I think our guys are ready to compete with anyone.”
Singleton finished with an impressive double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds, with Noparstak adding 19 and 8. While St. Pats was led by Galati with 29 and Austin Freeman with 14 points and five assists.