GAMER: WARREN 78, HP 50
Years from now, when anybody mentions Ziv Tal in boys basketball circles, folks will likely think, ‘Prolific scorer for Highland Park High School varsity teams.’
Hayden Katz — a Giants senior guard, like Tal — might recall Tal as something else: ‘Selfless star.’
With HP trailing Warren by a wide margin late in the fourth quarter in a Class 4A Hoffman Estates Regional semifinal on Feb. 28, Tal, a third-year varsity member, had a wide-open look from three-point territory but chose not to add to his 23-point total and a career-point that had surpassed 1,000 this winter.
Instead he zipped the ball to Katz, all alone near a baseline.
Katz nailed a trey for his only points in a 78-50 loss.
“Warren’s coaches told me afterward what a class act that was,” HP coach Paul Harris said. “Ziv made an amazing decision there.
“Ziv,” he added, “had an amazing career.”
The regional semi between the eighth-seeded Giants and the ninth-seeded Blue Devils began with a Ziv Tal/Branden Ellis show. Ellis, a 6-foot-3 senior guard for Warren, and the 6-1 Tal scored the first 22 points of the game, with HP taking a 12-10 lead on Tal’s third straight three-pointer in a 1:22 span.
Somebody (Warren senior guard David Catanus) other than Tal or Ellis finally scored with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
Ellis outscored Tal 6-0 in the second quarter, as Warren (19-11) used 9-2 and 10-2 runs take a 39-23 lead at halftime.
HP (15-11) netted a bucket in the first minute of the second half and appeared revitalized.
But the boys from the school in Gurnee answered with a 9-0 burst and, following another Tal trey, tallied the next 10 points to secure a 58-28 advantage.
“All the credit to Warren,” Harris said. “Their players had us on our heels early and made us play faster than we wanted.”
Warren didn’t let up in the fourth quarter, fraying twine relentlessly to widen the gap to 71-36.
Giants senior guard Daniel Michelon scored all seven of his points in the final 5:56; junior guard Andrew Natinsky contributed five points; and steady senior guard Tyler Gussis finished with a team-high five rebounds and a pair of steals.
Tal had those 23 points and collected a team-best three steals.
Blue Devils senior guard Ian Schilling (5 three-pointers) scored all 19 of his points in the final three quarters.
The victors connected for 11 three-pointers, with seven coming in the first half.
Warren faces top-seeded Lake Zurich for the regional title on March 2.