Hawks season ends
Senior guard Caleb deMarigny of Maine South drives the lane during the Hawks’ loss to to Evanston Friday in the Evanston regional title game.
Updated: 7:03 pm, Sat Mar 7, 2015.
Momentum was clearly on the Hawks’ side early in the fourth quarter of their Evanston regional title showdown with the host school at historic Beardsley Gym Friday night.
Senior point guard Caleb deMarigny canned a three-pointer that put Maine South ahead, 47-43, three minutes into the period. Jerome Bynum answered with a three for the Wildkits to make it 47-46, but the Hawks were able to maintain a two-point lead, 49-47, with around four minutes to go on a bucket from senior George Sargeant, who led all scorers with 23 points.
But then the Wildkits took control.
Sophomore guard Nojel Eastern’s basket gave Evanston a 50-49 lead at 3:46 of the period. The Wildkits ended up holding the No.3-seeded Hawks scoreless for the next three minutes while building up a 54-49 lead as Xhavier Hilliard slipped through the Hawks’ usually air-tight defense for an uncontested layup.
Evanston, which early last month dethroned the two-time defending CSL South champion Hawks with a 58-51 victory, got two free throws from Malik Jenkins in the closing seconds to put an end to Maine South’s 2014-15 campaign, 58-53.
“We were up four and (Jerome) Bynum hit a three in the corner and cut it to one, and we needed a stop there,” said Maine South coach Tony Lavorato. “That was a big possession. That was one that we’d really like to have.”
The Hawks, of course, were hoping for a deeper postseason run with a veteran ballclub led by three-year varsity stalwarts Sargenat and deMarigny, along with rugged 6-4 forward Davis Neilands and guard Nick Ruben, who finished with 11 points. In addition to winning consecutive CSL South championships, the Sargeant and deMarigny-led Hawks advanced to the sectional semifinals in 2013 and to a sectional title game last winter.
Maine South finished 26-4 this season and 25-7 last year. Lavorato pointed out that Sargeant and deMarigny, both of whom he brought up to the varsity club as freshmen with five games to go in the 2011-12 season, were part of 81 victories over that span.
“This is what people don’t understand especially when you’re building programs like we do,” Lavorato said. “You see the see kids since fourth-graders, we’ve seen them in our camps and we’ve seen them grow and make great decisions and make poor decisions.
“You see these kids and you’re attached to these kids and their families. To not be able to coach Caleb and George ever again is very sad to me.”
The fifth-seeded Wildkits bolted out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, but the Hawks responded with a 7-0 run of their own to tie it on spin move in the paint from Sargeant, who was just getting warmed up.
Sargeant lifted the Hawks to a 14-13 first-quarter lead, scoring nine points in the period which included two three-pointers.
The game, which had five ties and 14 lead changes, went back and forth throughout most of the second quarter until Evanston put together an 8-0 run and led, 32-24, with 1:42 left in the half. The Wildkits (20-9), who battle No. 2-seed Lake Forest at the Waukegan sectional on Wednesday night, held a 32-26 lead at the break, but it could have been worse, according to Lavorato.
“We look at the first half and we had seven turnovers and (on) every single one they scored,” Lavorato said. “We gave up seven offensive rebounds and they scored on three of those. I went into the locker room and I said, ‘We’re very lucky to be down six.’ We didn’t have any offensive rebounds.”
Maine South overcame that deficit in the third quarter, knotting up the score at 32 on a Neilands layup that was the result of Sargeant’s blocked shot at the other end. Sargeant found the range on another trey a little later, and the Hawks went up, 38-34. However, the Wildkits fought back and tied it, 40-40, on an Eastern hoop to end the quarter.
Eastern, who air-balled a shot toward the start of the game and heard it from the Hawks’ student section the remainder of the matchup, ended up getting the last laugh, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“Yea,” said Eastern, nodding his head when asked if he heard Maine South students chanting “airball … airball.” “We came out and played great offensively and defensively. We played as a team.”
“It was good to see us not only play hard but play smart,” said Evanston coach Mike Ellis. “Maine South is a very tough team, a very disciplined team and well coached, so it was great to see those guys answer the call to a great team and pressure.”
All-conference guard Jon Arenas and 6-11 center Brad Perry return next season for the Hawks, who defeated Glenbrook North, 47-28, in their regional semifinal game earlier in the week behind 10 points each from Sargeant and Neilands.
“I’m very proud of way we played and how we go about our business,” Lavorato said. “Our big thing is to represent ourselves and our school and the community to the best of our ability. Unfortunately they were better than us tonight.”