Foreman bests Von Steuben for Red North title
By Drake Skleba
In a game that was worthy of a Chicago Public League championship game, top-ranked Foreman outlasted Von Steuben 70-67 to claim its first outright Red North Division title Thursday at Foreman.
Foreman senior guard Mike McCall nailed two clutch free throws with 3.5 seconds left for the final points of the game. A wild scramble ensued before the final horn sounded and head coach Terry Head had his first division championship at the North Side school.
"This is fantastic to finally win one outright and not share this title with anyone," said an elated Head. "Everyone played great tonight for us. Mike McCall had a huge fourth quarter and Lavonte and Tommy had huge games for us as well."
McCall finished with 23 points including 11 in the final stanza. Foreman (17-2, 8-0) also received fine performances from senior Tommy Woolridge, who scored 17 points and had five rebounds, and senior guard Lavonte Dority, who added 13 points for the Red North champions.
"I didn't really play well today," said Wooldridge. "This was really great to wrap up the Red North Championship. This was a great game and Von Steuben really played well. We can put up a banner on the wall commemorating our championship."
The teams battled in an all-out war for four quarters. The hosts led after 29-25 after a first half that had five lead changes and three ties.
Woolridge topped the Hornets with nine first-half points, seven coming in the second quarter. Von Steuben (14-5, 6-2) was led by 6-foot-4 senior Jamal Dantzler (11 points, 10 rebounds, two blocked shots) who also had nine first-half points.
Foreman extended its lead to 50-43 after three quarters. Von Steuben stayed in contention thanks to senior point guard Jermaine Hiler, who scored nine of his 11 points in the third quarter.
An individual battle ensued in the fourth quarter between Von Steuben senior guard Nolan Williams, who scored a team-high 19 points, and Foreman's McCall.
With 5:51 left in the ball game Williams had a lay in that brought the Panthers within 54-53.
McCall answered with four straight points to put the Hornets up 58-53 with 5:15 left. Williams' put back brought the never-say-die Panthers back within 59-57 at the 4:42 mark.
McCall responded again, this time with an old-fashioned three-point play, to put Foreman up 62-57 with a little less than four minutes to go in regulation.
With 1:12 left McCall's drive gave the Hornets a 66-62 lead. Von Steuben's 6-foot-4 senior forward Isaac Sims (four points) scored on a huge put back with 52 seconds left to keep the pressure on the hosts.
Von Steuben received an awesome fourth quarter from 6-foot-4 forward Paul Varilla (14 points, eight rebounds). The senior scored eight points and hauled down four rebounds in the period for the valiant Panthers.
With 43 seconds left Mccall hit one of two free throws for a 67-64 Hornet lead. Von Steuben received a monster three-point bomb from senior guard Justin Parnell that tied an amazing ballgame at 67 with 29 seconds remaining.
With 19 seconds left Foreman's 6-foot-7 forward Edward Denard (four points, 10 rebounds) made one of two free throws to put the Hornets up 68-67. Von Steuben brought up the ball for what they hoped would be a game winning score. With 4.9 seconds left Foreman's ferocious defense created a costly traveling call on Von Steuben, and McCall nailed down the Red North championship.
"I hadn't played well in the first half," said McCall. "Coach Head told me to step up in the fourth quarter, which I was able to do. Von Steuben is a great team and we were not surprised that they came at us so hard."
REPORTER'S NOTE: This was one of the most exciting games I've covered this season. Compliments are due to the Chicago Public League referees, who had a very difficult game to officiate and came through with flying colors. Kudos to the three-man crew headed up by Vernal Turner. Great job guys!