WW South tops Lake Park in OT thriller to take DuKane lead
Wheaton Warrenville South senior Colin Moore had his hands full late in Saturday's game against Lake Park.
Moore, a standout senior wide receiver and safety for the Tigers, had double duty in the final minutes of a pressure-packed game between two teams with unbeaten records in DuKane Conference play.
Moore was tasked with bringing the ball up the court on many possessions, plus had the tough chore of guarding Lake Park's high-scoring junior guard Camden Cerese.
And Cerese, who light up the scoreboard for 40 points against Wheaton North in early December, was in big-shot mode.
Yet, after losing the ball on a turnover, Moore immediately bounced back with a game-turning charge and forced a five-second call in the final seconds of overtime to spark the Tigers to a thrilling 42-41 win over the Lancers in Wheaton.
By knocking off the Lancers (10-5, 5-1), the Tigers (13-2, 6-0) gained sole possession of first place in the conference, kept their momentum from an impressive third-place showing at the State Farm Holiday Classic and added another marquee victory to their growing resume to be included in the discussion among the top teams in Chicagoland in Class 4A.
Moore scored three of his team-high 12 points in overtime, while teammate Luca Carbonaro added 10 points and Braylen Meredith chipped in with nine points. Carbonaro was an unsung hero in the win, scoring eight of his points after halftime, playing tough defense and providing perimeter toughness.
Moore said he was proud of his defensive effort, which included tough on-ball defense to force a five-second call in the half-court on Cerese in the final seconds. Cerese finished with a game-high 22 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter and four in OT.
"(Camden) is a player, for sure," Moore said. "We played against him last year, when he was a sophomore and he's a whole year better. He's a beast. I just tried to have a short memory against a good Lake Park team. It was just next-play (mentality). It was great to play in front of the community."
Cerese nearly lifted his team to a road victory. The conference game was an intense physical, grind-it-out battle with the referees letting both sides play, leading to numerous tumbles to the floor and a defensive, low-scoring battle of wills.
With the Lancers down 36-31 with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Cerese rose to the occasion and showed why he's one of the best players in the conference. He scored six points to force overtime, highlighted by hitting a 17-footer with 2.1 left.
In overtime, with the Tigers leading 42-37 after three free throws by Moore gave the hosts a two-possession lead, Cerese buried a long 3-pointer from the wing and hit the free throw for a four-point play. The Lancers had a chance to win the game but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
"It was a crazy game, but we fought hard throughout the whole game," Cerese said. "We came out hard in the second half, but it just didn't fall for us. The atmosphere was crazy, but we fell short. I tried to do my best out there, but we didn't get the win and that's all that matters."
The Tigers and Lancers were locked into a defensive battle for the first half, as the Tigers led 18-14 at halftime. Both teams came out hitting shots in the third quarter, but the game tightened up the fourth quarter to set up a dramatic final few minutes and overtime.
Wheaton Warrenville South coach Mike Healy said the back-and-forth game was full of emotion - in other words a typical Tigers-Lancers game.
"They did enough to win," Healy said. "Colin forgot real fast (about his turnover) and made the next play. We made just enough (plays). It was exhausting. It's always like this when we play Lake Park. They play so hard and are so well-coached. We're glad we came out with a win."
WW South forward Nick Brooks played solid in the post to help his team secure the conference win. Brooks said it was well-earned victory.
"We all stepped up big," Brooks said. "This was a crazy game. It was a great win for us."