GAMER: NT 77, NILES NORTH 72
The subject of Sam Silverstein’s wingspan came up after a rather lengthy boys basketball game on Wednesday night.
“It’s got to be 6-feet-8, at least,” New Trier senior guard Andrew Kirkpatrick said of his 6-4 junior teammate. “It’s hard to get by him.”
It’ll be difficult to ever top the drama New Trier and Niles North provided in a Class 4A Maine East Sectional semifinal on March 7. Second-seeded New Trier overcame a 22-point deficit at the 2:31 mark of the third quarter, hit the third-seeded Vikings with a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter and escaped with a 77-72 double-overtime victory in Park Ridge.
“The last five minutes of the fourth quarter are a blur to me,” said Trevians coach Scott Fricke, who received the game ball after notching his 200th career victory in his 10th season, with the chance to add to the total in the sectional final against top-seeded Evanston on March 9 (7 pm).
“I thought we came out and played pretty well at the start of the second half (after trailing 33-20 at the break). But then I looked up [at the scoreboard], and we’re down by 18.”
Niles North (23-5) expanded the advantage to 51-29 and appeared to be in complete control versus a team it had gone 1-1 against in the regular season.
Kirkpatrick (team-high 21 points) netted a three-pointer, and junior big man Spencer Boehm (12 points) made a field goal to give NT Nation some hope at the end of the frame.
The fourth frame was something else — something special, if you were rooting for New Trier (25-5). The Trevs got five points from senior guard/forward Griffin Ryan (16 points) in that 14-0 stretch, capped by Silverstein’s steal-and-bucket sequence to pare Niles North’s advantage all the way down to 54-48 at 5:09.
“We’ve faced adversity before,” said Silverstein, who manned the top of NT’s disruptive 1-3-1 defense in the second half and finished with three points, seven rebounds and a team-best four steals. “We weren’t too worried.
“I try to stay calm out there, show little emotion, but my heart was racing about 1,000 miles per hour.”
Kirkpatrick saved his club’s season with clutch shooting in the final 1:03 of regulation, tallying seven in the span, including a trey to close the Vikes’ gap to 59-57.
He then tied it at 59 with a basket and knotted it again (61-61) with another basket with seven ticks left.
OT would be needed to decide this one.
“We were running everything to him at the end of the quarter; we just let him go,” Fricke said of Kirkpatrick. “He’s been taking and making big shots for a long time.”
NT had to battle for a while without 6-9 junior center Ciaran Brayboy, who suffered an ankle injury at 2:25 of the third quarter and did not return to the court until the start of the second OT session.
“I asked him, ‘Can you go?’ ” Fricke said. “He told me, ‘I can go.’ ”
Brayboy (8 boards) scored three of his 19 points in the second OT, with his free throw (following a foul on his put-back) giving the Trevians a 70-67 lead.
NT — which had secured its first lead (63-61) of the game on a reverse layup by senior guard Brian Conaghan in the first OT — never trailed again.
Niles North made it a 73-72 contest on a trey with 25 seconds left; NT sealed matters with two free throws apiece from Kirkpatrick and Boehm.
Kirkpatrick also contributed six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Ryan was busy and productive as well, finishing with six boards, four assists, three steals and a block. Twelve of his 16 points came in the final quarter and OT periods.
Demarion Bariffe-Smith and Dravon Clayborn each scored 22 points to pace the Vikings.
Kevin Reiterman contributed