lockportlegend.com SPORTS the Lockport Legend | January 25, 2018 | 43 Boys Bowling Porters fall short of state bid 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 thirdplace 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 second straight 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 would advance downstate for a sixth straight season. Except it wasn’t. An otherwise outstanding season, which included a South- West Suburban Conference championship and a regional title for Lockport came to a sudden end. The Porters were ninth overall with a total of 5,578 pins. That was 84 pins behind sixthplace finisher Oswego East. Lockport’s top individual was senior Alec Buchhaas, who qualified for state as an individual. “We struggled here [at Laraway Lanes] in the past,” Buchhaas said. “It was tough for us, but it was tough for everyone.” Buchhaas, one of Lockport’s two senior starters, finished with a total of 1,235. He had a trio of games of 210 or higher, including one of 257 in the fifth game. Buchhaas has bowled at state all four years he has been a part of the varsity team at Lockport. Junior Caleb Derrig (1,170) and senior Keith Pintoy (1,110) also bowled all six games for Lockport. Junior Evan Pleshar (713) and senior Mitch Gajda (709) both rolled four games, junior Andrew Bean (346) bowled two games, and sophomore Ray Bufka (167 in game No. 1) and junior Jimmy Rozhon (128 in game No. 2) each fired one game for the Porters. “We didn’t have it all 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 day,” Lockport coach Ron Davis said. “We never broke 1,000 in any game [team high of 988 in game No. 3]. The guys just couldn’t figure [lane conditions] out. It is what it is. All good things must come to an end.” Entering the season, the Porters weren’t sure how good the team would be. While they will miss the seniors, especially Buchhaas, they had a lot of underclassmen perform well. That will only help them next season. “We had a hard time picking the team this year,” Davis said. “We will have a good team next year.” Boys Swimming and Diving Lockport boys swimming overcomes Warriors 105-77 in New Lenox Randy Whalen Freelance Reporter With an eye on the upcoming conference meet and sectional to follow soon after that, the Lockport Township and Lincoln-Way West boys swimming teams tuned up last week. The two teams met in a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover dual meet on Jan. 16 in New Lenox. There, Lockport outdistanced the host Warriors 105- 77. While the win was nice for the Porters (3-4, 2-3), both they and West (2-7, 1-6) were looking toward the conference meet and beyond. “We’re nearing the end, so we’re looking to fine-tune everything,” Lockport swimmer Erik Firganek said. “Our turns, our touches, our walls, everything. We’re swimming tired now. Some of the younger guys are looking ahead to the conference, while the guys that have been on varsity longer will look to taper more toward the sectional.” Firganek, a senior, captured the 100-yard butterfly against West with a time of 59.06 seconds and was also on a pair of winning relay teams. “It went pretty well,” Firganek said of the meet against the Warriors. “We swam in some off events [he usually swims the 100- and 200-yard freestyle for individual events]. But it’s a good refresher to swim those off events. My goal is to get to state. I haven’t yet, and I’ve Lockport’s Michael Bates reacts to his time after winning the 50-yard freestyle Jan. 16 during a meet against Lincoln- Way West in New Lenox. James Sanchez/22nd Century Media worked four years for that.” Also winning individual titles for the Porters was junior Michael Bates (25.58 seconds) in the 50-yard freestyle and Connor Hecker (51.83), who outraced fellow senior teammate Colin Onak (55.37) in the 100-yard freestyle. Also, sophomore Augusto Ureta (5:30.14) won the 500-yard freestyle by over 18 seconds. In the diving, senior Logan Morgan (271.05) outscored junior teammate Wrigley Fields (263.60). Lockport also won all three relays, starting with the 200-yard medley relay to kick off the meet. There, the senior foursome of Hecker, Giovanni Onesto, Jacob Sweis and Haleem Ajibola won with a time of 1:49.92. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the Porters pulled out the Top 3 spots. Finishing first was Firganek, Ajibola, junior Tyler Thompson and Sweis (1:35.25), while the foursome of Ureta, Hecker, junior Simon Harmata and Bates (1:41.21) placed second. It was more of the same in the 400-yard freestyle relay. There, the Porters also placed all three top spots. Firganek, Sweis, Onak and Hecker (3:35.17) captured the top spot, while Ureta, Bates, Ajibola and Thompson (3:49.78) took second. The team is doing OK,” Lockport coach Jason Ozbolt said. “We [had] senior night on Thursday [Jan. 18 against Stagg], so we are saying goodbye to 13 seniors. The next few weeks we are going to look at some of our underclassman to step up and realize that they have some big shoes to fill. We also are looking in the next few weeks and conference to see some guys race for spots on the sectional lineup.” For swimming, the SWSC is still divided into two divisions. The Porters are in the Blue Division and will travel to Stagg on Friday, Feb. 2, and Saturday, Feb. 3, for the conference meet.
44 | January 25, 2018 | The Lockport Legend SPORTS lockportlegend.com 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.