The surprise, a mouthful of it, was sour.
Fortunately for Sean O'Brien, victory always tastes sweet.
Mundelein's 6-foot-7 senior may have thrown up more than a missed shot at the end of the first half against visiting Lake Forest, but he and his teammates left their own gym with a good taste in their mouths after pulling out a 62-56 win in a North Suburban Conference Lake Division thriller Thursday night.
Mundelein, which received a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds from O'Brien, improved to 12-8 and 5-2 in the NSC Lake with its fourth win in a row. Lake Forest, which beat Mundelein 69-61 on Nov. 30, fell to 13-4 and 4-3.
"We've been riding that inconsistent roller coaster," O'Brien said. "We're on a four-game win streak so hopefully we got momentum. That was a huge win, (with it being the start) of the second time around in conference. Lake Forest is always tough."
A physical game between skilled teams got ugly, so to speak, when O'Brien hustled the ball into the frontcourt as time wound down in the first half. After the buzzer sounded following O'Brien's jumper, he spit up on the court and hustled off it.
"I just ate too much before the game," said O'Brien, whose spin moves to the basket were sick enough to make any player dizzy. "It was actually funny. The last play (before halftime), I was dribbling upcourt and I threw up in my mouth a little bit. I was running through the play with puke in my mouth. I couldn't even swallow it down. I was like, 'Get me out of this place.'
"Once it was out, I felt a lot better. My stamina was better."
When the second half commenced, with Lake Forest leading 26-25, O'Brien immediately showed he was OK, as he scored on a spinning drive. His 7 points in the third quarter helped the Mustangs take a 37-36 lead into the fourth.
He added 4 more points in the final quarter, which saw Mundelein get to the stripe frequently.
"He played a heck of a game for throwing up," Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala said of O'Brien.
A strange final quarter saw the game turn when Lake Forest forward Evan Boudreaux (team-high 17 points, 10 rebounds) was called for a loose-ball foul and then a technical on the same play. The Scouts trailed 47-45 with 3:28 left. Mundelein's Quinn Pokora, who 30 seconds earlier was fouled outside the arc and hit 2 of 3 free throws, sank both ends of a 1-and-1 and then made both technical-foul shots.
Pokora's 4 free throws stretched the lead to 51-45.
"Sometimes it's just nice to see the ball go through the basket," said Pokora, who went 8 of 9 from line in the fourth and finished with 10 points. "Free throws definitely help with that. I was short all night. We were all shooting bad. So those free throws really got us going. They got us a nice little cushion. We made (the free throws) when we had to. It was important."
Then with 2:16 left and Mundelein up 54-49, for the second time in the quarter, Mustangs guard Dylan Delaquila was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. He hit all 3 free throws. Delaquila scored all 9 of his points in the fourth.
Mundelein went 18 of 25 from the line in the fourth (26 of 37 overall), while Lake Forest got to the line only six times in the final quarter (12 of 16 overall).
Center Sam Downey and guard Carter Bass each had 12 points and 7 rebounds for Lake Forest, which limited Mundelein's Chino Ebube to 7 points and 5 boards. The Scouts also received 11 points and 7 rebounds from Ben Simpson.
"It's a cardinal sin to foul a three-point shooter, and we did it three times (in the fourth quarter)," LaScala said. "When a game is that physical, and going up and down, it's interesting."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.