RECAP: HP 54, ANDREW 50
Putting the ball into the hands of Ziv Tal at a crucial time is always a good option.
It was again on Dec. 29, when the Highland Park senior hit the game-deciding shot in his team’s 54-50 double-overtime victory over Andrew in Day Four of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York High School.
“We want the ball in his hands at the end of the game,” said HP head coach Paul Harris, who guided his team to 3-1 record in the 32-team invite.
Tal, who was named to the all-tourney team, sank a contested off-the-dribble 14-foot jumper from the right wing just before the buzzer sounded to make it 52-50.
A few moments later, following a technical foul on the Andrew coaching staff, he added two free throws to give the Giants (7-5) their four-point margin.
Tal’s clutch shot put the finishing touches on a tug-of-war game.
“Pretty exciting,” said Harris.
With less than a minute left, Harris called a timeout and told his team to run “Flat” — spread the offense out and let Tal operate.
The guard had options.
“His job was to read the defense,” said Harris. “Kick it out. Pass it underneath.”
Or, just shoot it.
“He made the right read,” Harris said, with a smile.
Tal, who ended up with 20 points, worked it to perfection.
“I waited for the clock to go down to 10 seconds and then went right,” said Tal.
“In my mind,” he added. “I was planning to go with the pull-up all along.”
Talwasn’t the only HP player coming up big in the two overtimes. Senior guard Daniel Michelon, who also finished with 20 points, tallied eight points in the two extra sessions.
And how about Andrew’s Zachary Mattix? The Thunderbolt junior came off the bench and drilled a three-pointer at the end of regulation to tie the game 43-43.
It was a gut-puncher for the Giants, who were unable to protect a six-point lead in the final 27 seconds of the game.
But it was an amazing catch and shoot by Mattix. He not only had a hand — Tal’s hand — in his face, but he also double pumped before letting it fly.
“Give the guy credit,” said Tal.
“But we didn’t get discouraged,” Tal added. “We regrouped.”
HP’s Game Balls: Ziv Tal (Sr., G), Daniel Michelon (Sr., G)
Andrew’s Game Balls: Troy Murphy (Sr., G), Zachary Mattix (Jr., F)
Player of the Game: Tal
HP’s Unsung Hero: Jonny Koenig
HP’s Stat Leaders
— Tal (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals)
— Michelon (20 points, 5 steals)
— Koenig (6 points)
— Noah Shutan (4 points, 5 assists, 2 steals)
— Tyler Gussis (2 points, 7 rebounds)
Andrew’s Stat Leaders
— Murphy (20 points, 8 rebounds)
— Evan Yerkes (11 points, 2 steals)
— Dan Giehahn (9 points, 3 assists)
— Ryan Rolder (5 assists)
— Mattix (5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists)
Notable: Highland Park opened the tournament with a 69-45 victory over Sandburg on Dec. 26. The Giants were led by Ziv Tal (21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals), Jonny Koenig (9 points), Tyler Gussis (8 points, 3 rebounds), Daniel Michelon (7 points, 3 assists), Noah Shutan (5 points, 10 assists, 5 steals) and Ethan Goldberg (4 points, 3 rebounds). … In game two, on Dec. 27, HP dropped a 60-46 decision to Batavia. HP’s stat leaders were Michelon (19 points), Tal (7 points), Koenig (5 points, 3 assists), Lucas Fleisher (5 points) and Shutan (3 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists). … And, on Day Three, the Giants topped Timothy Christian 61-37. Junior Andrew Natinsky came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points. The other stat leaders were Tal (13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals), Michelon (9 points, 3 assists, 3 steals), Gussis (8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals), Hayden Katz (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists), Shutan (4 assists, 3 steals) and Fleisher (3 points, 2 assists, 3 steals).
“We’re a very resilient group. We showed that tonight. We’ve showed it all season.” — Highland Park head coach Paul Harris, on his team’s win over Andrew (8-5).
“Jonny [Koenig] and Tyler [Gussis] are so good defensively. A lot of what they do on the court doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.” — Harris.
“Winning a game like this [double overtime] builds your psyche. It makes you tougher moving forward.” — Harris.