The Maine East sectional just got even more treacherous.
Maine West pulled off a shocking 56-52 victory over New Trier to claim the CSL crossover championship and avoid a CSL South sweep.
“I actually saw that tweet before the game and thought no way we were getting swept,” joked Maine West wing Milos Dugalic. “It was kind of a motivating factor, and we just told ourselves no way were we going to lose tonight.”
Things looked bleak for Maine West early, as they had a tough time scoring against the trees of New Trier.
The Warriors struggled to finish at the rim and their perimeter shots were not falling. All the while, New Trier were getting contributions from everyone, even their little used bench players to take a 16-10 first quarter lead.
New Trier extended their lead early in the second quarter with the three point shooting of Andrew Kirkpatrick (13 points). It looked as though Maine West would go into halftime trailing by double digits until Dugalic (23 points, six rebounds) carried the Maine West offensive load for a much more manageable eight point halftime deficit.
Whether it was the change of ends or the law of averages, Maine West came out of the halftime break firing from deep.
“We got into down early and in some foul trouble but really there was no reason the freak out,” said Maine West head coach Tom Prokopij. “We finally hit one or two shots, and our kids were like, ‘alright it’s just basketball.”
More than half of Maine West’s field goals in the second half came from beyond the arc, and while the Warriors guards were dialing it in from long range, center Jack Collins (11 points, 10 rebounds) did a tremendous job keeping New Trier’s Ciaran Brayboy at bay.
Only trailing by three points entering the fourth quarter, Maine West continued their three point barrage into the final frame.
After not even attempting a shot through the first three quarters, Matt Kentgen again delivered in the clutch hitting two three pointers for his only points of the night, but more importantly, giving Maine West a six point lead.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone more clutch than Matty Ice,” said Dugalic. “He has ice running through his veins.”
Kirkpatrick and Griffin Ryan sparked a late rally for the Trevians, going on 6-0 run to tie the game at 52, but late free throws from Collins and Dugalic gave Maine West all the cushion they needed as their defense did the rest.
Maine West’s win confirms what many have known from early on in the season, the Maine East sectional is the deepest in the entire state.
Though Maine West may only be seeded eights, It isn’t inconceivable that the Warriors can knock off top seeded Evanston and potentially make a postseason run, making an already successful season into something special.
“I think we can win the sectional,” said Dugalic. “I mean we beat one of the top teams in the state tonight and we have as good of a chance as anyone.”
“This athletic program right now is incredible,” added Prokopij. “Girls side, boys side, top to bottom everybody has had so much success and it’s a great time to be a Warrior.”