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Strickland, Auburn run away with regional crown
Posted By Brandon Reid On March 5, 2011 @ 1:11 pm In Happening Now | No Comments
By Matt Nestor
The Boylan Titans had made their move in the chess match and cut their 9-point halftime deficit down to 3. Auburn countered and moved the lead back to 8, but Boylan had a chance to cut the lead before the third quarter ended.
The Knights caused a turnover with 7 seconds left, and senior Anthony Strickland got free in the corner. He let the 3-point shot fly, Auburn ended the quarter up 11, and never looked back, beating Boylan by a final of 59-43 to claim the IHSA Class 4A Jefferson Regional championship.
“For him to come through like that in that moment in time really gave us the momentum going into the fourth quarter,” Auburn Head Coach Bryan Ott said. “You could maybe see the wind getting knocked out of their sails at that point.”
Strickland wasn’t done there with the Titans, either. Boylan did cut the lead down to 6 with 1:45 left in the game, but Strickland came up with two more baskets off steals and a free throw to help seal the deal on his way to a game-high 16 points.
“It means the world,” junior guard Fred Van Vleet said of their senior leader stepping up in the championship. “We knew we could count on him and wanted to keep feeding him. He stepped up big time.”
The concern coming into the game for the Knights was the inside presence of Boylan with Armani Flannigan, Jason Painter and Teyvious Montgomery.
Harlem was able to attack Auburn inside in the regional semifinals, which worried Ott facing the Titans’ imposing front line. But while Montgomery did score 11, they were able to hold both Painter and Flannigan to 6 points and overall held Boylan to their second-lowest point total of the season.
“The guys just did a great job of everybody playing their roles and doing their part and fighting and scrapping,” he said. “We really did lean on our defense. The Harlem game was a great reminder of what it is that we build on. That was a good wake up call for us.”
The win gave Auburn their second regional title in three years. It also kept them perfect in conference play by beating Boylan for a third time this season.
“It’s a big achievement and a big change,” Strickland said of sweeping Boylan this season. “But we kept our composure. We played defense, boxed out and pulled out the game.”
The Knights will now turn their attention to South Elgin, their opponent for the Algonquin Jacobs sectional. The Storm beat last year’s Boylan sectional winner, Bartlett, 33-32 to win the school’s first regional championship.
South Elgin is a defensive stalwart and likes to keep the score low. They are led by seniors Sam Sutter and Matt Hattendorf. The game will be Wednesday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m.
Van Vleet said his team was happy with the regional title, but they will not celebrate for long as they get ready for the next round.
“Late in the season, you just want to keep getting better, especially with the defense,” he said. “We just have to get back to work, get in the film room and get back to practice.”
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