Lake Forest dominates St. Viator in regional final

The plan was simple.

Saint Viator boys basketball coach Michael O’Keeffe revealed it minutes before the start of Friday night’s Class 3A North Chicago regional final.

“Keep ’em off the glass,” O’Keeffe said.

But the execution of said plan was hard.

Honors Calculus-hard.

The ’em in his blueprint were Lake Forest’s Scouts, seeded second to the Lions’ No. 7 and winners of two consecutive regional titles. LF constructed a phenomenal rebounding advantage of 47-14 and notched a 35-15 (not a typo, readers) victory that took only 67 minutes to complete.

The North Suburban Conference power didn’t allow a point in the second quarter and used a 10-0 flurry to secure a 31-7 lead at the 1:56 mark of the third quarter.

Lake Forest (24-7) will face 12th-seeded Ridgewood — which defeated visiting Lake View 82-58 in a regional final Friday night —in a Saint Viator sectional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“That’s a disciplined, physical, well-coached team,” O’Keeffe said of Scouts coach Phil LaScala’s club. “Fundamentally sound, too.

“We had a good group of kids this season. Definitely more positives than negatives. And we finished better than .500 (17-16), playing only one senior (6-foot-6 guard Mitch Humphrey) and getting heavy minutes from a freshman (6-1 forward Dawson Charles)."

Six-7 junior forward Hudson Scroggins had an enormous game for the victors, scoring 14 points and pulling down 16 rebounds. His numbers after 16 minutes: 7 points, 11 boards.

Scouts 6-2 senior guard Tommy Aberle finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds. He tallied the final 6 points in that 10-0 spurt in the third frame.

“Never in a playoff game,” LaScala, in his 19th season at the school, said, referring to holding a team to 15 points in a 32-minute game. “We got lucky; Viator usually shoots better than you saw tonight. We knew we had quite a height advantage, and our kids did a nice job grabbing as many offensive rebounds (16 to Viator’s 1) as they did. Those can deflate an opponent.

“But we struggled offensively.”

Lake Forest netted only 6 points in the second quarter and got outscored 6-4 in the final 8 minutes. Reserves from both squads entered the action in the final 2 minutes or so.

Scouts senior guard Bolurin Taiwo struck for all 5 of his points in the first half and came down with 6 rebounds. Five Scouts collected at least five rebounds apiece.

Junior guard Brandyn Michaels’ 4 points led Saint Viator. Classmate Dayvion Ellis, a 6-0 guard, scored 3 points. Humphrey had 3 boards.

“In no way will this program, or our players, be defined by what happened tonight,” O’Keeffe said. “We had a very good season. And we played in a tough conference (East Suburban Catholic).

“In my opinion, it’s one of the five best conferences in the state.”

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