The Homer Horizon 012518
homerhorizon.com SPORTS the Homer Horizon | January 25, 2018 | 45 Boys Basketball Lockport drops overtime game to Sandburg on Veterans Night Both squads comment on honor of playing in front of those who served Randy Whalen Freelance Reporter It wasn’t just a game — it was an event. There’s normally a heightened atmosphere in the air whenever Sandburg and Lockport Township step on the basketball court. But last weekend’s meeting was even more so. That’s because Lockport hosted its annual Veterans Night, where the Porters honored anyone who lives locally and served in the armed forces. The four-time event has been organized each year by Lockport social studies teacher Mike Zaworski. This year’s gathering was the largest yet, as 98 veterans were in attendance, including five from World War II, and five from the Korean War. They were all honored before the game as they were announced one-by-one in the event, which included a full court flag presentation and the large crowd joining in on the singing of the national anthem. “I really liked that; it gave me chills,” Sandburg senior post player Kevin McShane said of the Veterans Night event. “That was fun to be a part of.” It was even more fun for McShane, as he helped his team rally down the stretch for a 62-56 overtime victory against the Porters in a SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue Division battle on Friday, Jan. 19, at the Lockport East Campus. “This night was awesome, and the credit for that goes to Mike Zaworski since he does a great job with it,” Lockport coach Brett Hespell said. “It’s great for the community and for the kids to see. We’re just playing basketball, but what these guys did is real. This is all about kids learning to grow up, and this is an opportunity to see people who have really done big-time stuff. So, it’s just awesome that our school promotes it, and that we’re able to be a part of it. The kids and the fans love it.” So do the veterans. Take Joe Czerkies, for example. The 1967 Lockport graduate played basketball for the Porters. Then, he joined the Marine Corps in 1974 and served until 1976. His son, Aaron, was a member of the 2008 Lockport basketball team that placed fourth in the state in Class 4A and also later served in the Marine Corps. “I’ve been to each one, and this is double the attendance from last year,” Joe Czerkies said of the event. “It’s just a real nice affair.” It is especially nice for someone like Floy Pelletier. The Homer Glen resident turned 100 last year. He served in the Air Force from 1942-1946 and was one of the five World War II veterans on hand. Pelletier, who was the oldest person in attendance, came to the area when his late wife, Helen, got a teaching job here. “It’s great, it’s very enjoyable,” Pelletier said of the Veterans Night. “Mike [Zaworski] put in a lot of work and deserves a lot of credit.” For James Green, it was a family affair. Green, a 1984 Joliet Central graduate and a custodian at Lockport for the past 21 years, served in the army from 1985-1989 and was in Germany some during that time. “I’ve been involved in all four of these, and my dad, James, Sr., and my uncles, A total of 98 veterans were honored on the evening, including a handful who served during World War II. Albert Green and Charles Green, were here, too,” Green said. “Just coming out and seeing all the men and women that served makes it a special night. It’s just neat to hear all the stories of the old-time vets, and it’s great to see how this has grown in the community.” Sandburg coach Todd Allen was happy his team could be part of the event. “First, let me say it was a great job by Lockport with the Veterans Night,” Allen said. “I was proud to be a part of that, and our team was very proud to be a part of that. They did a great job, and we really appreciate them making us a part of it.” With the Eagles trailing by two, Jake Pygon had a steal with 43 seconds to play in regulation. He missed the layup, but McShane (10 rebounds) was there to put it back in and knot the game at 50-50 with 36 seconds remaining. McShane then added a blocked shot on a potential game-winning attempt from close range by Lockport senior center Zach Pytlewski (12 points) in the final seconds. That helped send the game into overtime, where the Eagles scored the first three points, and McShane had four points total in a 7-2 spurt for a 57-52 lead at the halfway point of the fourminute overtime session. Although the Porters cut the lead to three on a pair of free throws by junior guard Matt Hatzopoulos (game-high 19 points), they never regained possession for a chance to tie. Lockport (6-10, 0-4) scored the first five points of the game. The Eagles, who scored 46 total points in losing both games to Lockport last season, soared back to lead 13-8 and 15-10 before the Porters knotted it at 15-15 after one quarter. The game, which featured six ties and 11 lead changes, was close the rest of the way. Lockport led 29-28 at halftime, by four on four occasions in the third quarter and 40-38 after the third quarter. The Eagles had an 8-3 burst to open the fourth quarter, but Lockport rallied for leads of 48-46 on a 3-pointer by Hatzopoulos with 1:49 to play, and then at 50-48 on layup by Pytlewski with 1:03 remaining. “It was a tough loss,” Hatzopoulos said. “We played well almost the whole game, but I had a turnover to give them the ball [in the final minute of regulation] to tie the game. So, I felt bad about that. “But it was nice playing Lockport’s Quinn Gardner fires a shot over Sandburg’s Jack McNulty in the matchup between the rival schools on Veterans Night on Friday, Jan. 19, at LTHS’s East Campus. Photos by Julie McMann/22nd Century Media in front of a crowd this size, and it was good to play in front of the veterans and give them the respect that they deserve.” Junior guard Jacob Karli (9 points) and senior forward Kevin Horan (6 points) also contributed for the Porters, who played without junior center Thomas Halatek, who was out sick for the secondstraight game. Both teams wore specially made shirts that matched their uniforms and said “thank you veterans.” One of the veterans, Andy McCormick, is also the assistant Lockport girls bowling coach. He graduated from Joliet West in 1970, enlisted in the Army that year and was stationed in Europe. Then, he spent three years in the National Guard. “It’s my first time attending,” McCormick said of the Veterans Night. “Usually, we have a bowling meet or tournament. It was nice. There’s a lot of guys and women here. You get a lot of veterans from all over, and that means a lot.” Earlier in the week on Jan. 16, Lockport defeated visiting Joliet West 58-53 in an old-fashioned rivalry battle between familiar foes. Quinn Gardner scored a team-high 17 points on 6-for-6 shooting, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Hatzopoulos (15 points) and Karli (2 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists), as well as Pytlewski (10 points) Horan (8 points), also contributed greatly to the win. Gardner’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 24 seconds to play in the fourth quarter following senior forward Deondre Cooper’s offensive board proved to be the winning points in that contest.
46 | January 25, 2018 | The Homer Horizon SPORTS homerhorizon.com Porters return to championship form at Stagg tournament Jason Maholy Freelance Reporter Lockport wrestlers won five individual titles and finished in the Top 6 in 12 of 14 weight classes as the Porters ended the regular season by rolling to the team title at the Tom Lahey Invitational Tournament last weekend in Palos Hills. The two-day event, which this year substituted for the annual SouthWest Suburban Conference Tournament, was held Friday, Jan. 19, and Saturday, Jan. 20, at Stagg High School. It featured 17 teams, including all 13 SWSC programs. Lockport, which has experienced growing pains one season after winning the Class 3A state title, dominated a challenging field and cruised to the tourney crown with 249 points. Runner-up Lincoln-Way East finished with 170.5, followed by Sandburg with 163, and Lincoln-Way West and Andrew, which tied for fourth with 159 points each. Lincoln-Way Central finished 11th with 57 points. The Porters finished only 11-8 in dual meets this season but faced arguably the Lockport’s James Pierandozzi looks to get the pin Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Tom Lahey Invitational Tournament in Palos Hills. Jason Maholy/22nd Century Media state’s toughest schedule and showed why they will contend for a second consecutive Class 3A state team title. Lockport ruled the lower and middle weights, as Mike Kaminsky (106), Matt Ramos (113), James Pierandozzi (138), Baylor Fernandes (145) and Zach Reese (152) were crowned champs. Anthony Moulton finished second at 120. Moulton, who placed fourth last season in Class 3A at 113 pounds, nearly handed Stagg’s Domenic Zaccone his first loss of the season, as he led the twotime state medalist by a point with less than 1 minute remaining before dropping a 4-3 decision. Zaccone’s only loss in 2016-2017 was to Joey Melendez, of Montini, in the 113-pound state title match. Moulton was disappointed but said it meant a lot to him that he was on the brink of upsetting the undefeated Zaccone. “I know he’s really good, but I know I can be up there with the top guys,” he said. “It just lets me know what I need to work on to beat the top guys. It was a good experience. I’m getting ready for state, so I’ll probably see him there.” The Porters are finally Lockport’s Anthony Moulton (right) and Stagg’s Domenic Zaccone stare each other down during their showdown at the tournament. employing the lineup coach Josh Oster had anticipated they would have all season. The Porters dropped dual meets to East (29-28), Sandburg (36-36, tiebreaker) and West (34-30) this season but clearly had the superior squad at the tournament. “Sometimes, it’s hard to see the big picture when you’re in the trenches and you’re losing dual meets by two points, three points, a tiebreaker, and five or six meets come down to the last match, and you get beat up mentally that way,” Oster said. “As a coaching staff, we tried to stay positive with them and just emphasize it’s not about right now. We never talk about who we’re missing because you wrestle with who you’ve got, and everyone’s a part of it; they’re all going to wrestle at some point, and everyone’s got to step up.” Also placing for the Porters were: Austin Kolada (160) and Yousef Salah (182) in fourth place; Matt Kronsbein (132) and Malik Daghash (170) in fifth place; and Parker Pavlacka- Piel (220) and John Tomas (285) taking sixth. Boys Bowling LTHS finishes in ninth at sectional meet Randy Whalen Freelance Reporter In sports, people often refer to the home-field advantage. For the Lincoln-Way Central and Lincoln-Way West boys bowling teams, it was home lanes advantage. Led by individual champion Alex Nolan and the third-place finisher Jack Davern, Central cruised to the title of its own sectional last weekend. The Knights, who will be making their first trip to state since finishing third in 2008, led from the start and put up a score of 6,343 on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Laraway Lanes in New Lenox. That was 445 pins better than runner up Lincoln-Way West (5,898), which also calls Laraway Lanes home. The Warriors, who were led by their two returning seniors, George Dennison and Caleb Kirby (1,232 each), jumped to second in the final game and advanced downstate for the secondstraight season. The other four qualifying teams were Joliet West (5,828), Minooka (5,789), Plainfield Central (5,688) and Oswego East (5,662). The state finals are this weekend, Friday, Jan. 26, and Saturday, Jan. 27, at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Porters Please see bowling, 44 Lockport’s Ray Bufka takes aim Saturday, Jan. 20, during the boys bowling sectional at Laraway Lanes in New Lenox. Geoff Stellfox/22nd Century Media