By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle
WILMINGTON – The old adage, “defense wins championships,” was certainly on display, in Friday’s Class 2A Wilmington Boys Regional Championship Game. Lisle (19-11), held Princeton (14-15), to four points in the first and fourth quarters and went on to beat the Tigers 50-42, for the regional championship.
With the victory, the Lions will face Kankakee Bishop McNamara (21-7), a 60-42 Beecher Regional championship game-winner, over Illiana Christian, on Tuesday February 28 at 7, in a Class 2A Seneca Sectional semifinal.
Lisle’s 6-2 senior Mark McGrath, led the Lions with 20 points and completed his “double-double”, hauling down 12 rebounds. Lion defensive standouts were seniors, Trevor Stitt (8 points) and Grant Haen ( 6 points). Stitt and Haen, put the clamps on Princeton’s two “big guns”, senior Colby Robbins (16 points) and junior Josh Reinhardt ( 7 points)
With 3:43 left in the game, 6-6 Tiger Colton Youngren (11 points, six rebounds), would score inside for Princeton, bringing the Tigers within three, at 43-40. Mark McGrath’s powerful put-back basket, gave the Lions a 45-40 lead with 3:11 left.
“I went into tonight’s game, knowing I had to have a big night on the glass,“ Mark McGrath said. “It felt great to come up with the “double-double” and get the huge win. I have been waiting my four years at Lisle, for this moment. It’s an amazing feeling to win this regional championship and we want to go down to Seneca and continue to win.”
Princeton’s Chris Parry ( six points) scored to bring the Tigers back within three again, at 45-42 with 2:56 remaining. Mark McGrath’s “little bro” sophomore Jay, may have come with the play of the game, next. Grabbing a Tiger miss, the sophomore, went “coast to coast” and laid in his third and fourth points of the game, extending the Lions lead to 47-42, with 2:01 left.
Princeton’s Robbins, who scored all 16 of his points in the second and third quarter, was shutout by the Lion defense in the fourth quarter. The Stitt-Haen duo, wouldn’t even allow him to get off a shot. With 23 seconds left, Stitt nailed a pair of charity tosses and Haen added one more, to complete the scoring in the game.
“Our game plan was to shutdown Robbins and Reinhardt,” Stitt said. “It was awesome the way our game play came to fruition, helping us win the regional championship. I was able to knock down some shots tonight. We can’t wait for Tuesday night.”
“Trevor and I talked before the game about shutting down Robbins and Reinhardt,” Haen said. “We played great defense all night, especially locking Princeton up, in the fourth quarter. We don’t care who we play Tuesday. We just want to enjoy this great victory, tonight.”
The Lions scored the first 10 points of the game and held a 13-4 lead after one quarter. The Tigers, roared back in the second quarter, behind Robbins and Youngren and the game was deadlocked at 23, after 16 minutes.
In the third quarter, both the Lions and Tigers, unleashed a long-range artillery bombardment. Robbins buried a pair from three-point land and Reinhardt buried one. Lisle’s Bryan O’Connell (six points) buried a pair and Stitt would nail his second three of the night, as Lisle led 41-38 after three quarters.
“This was a great team win for us,” Lisle head coach Mark LaScala said. “We knew we would have to play great defense against the high-scoring Princeton team and we did. Trevor and Grant really shutdown #32 and #4.
The things that Mark McGrath is able to do being only 6-2, is amazing. Mark had an outstanding game for us. I know we will be underdogs on Tuesday against a great Bishop Mac team. We have to go down to Seneca and continue to play great defense and our game.”