Boys’ basketball: the comeback kids



The boys’ basketball team knocked off top-seeded Lyons Township in the Proviso West 4A regional championship Friday night to send the program back to the sectional tournament for the first time since the Solomon-Obendorf era of 2012.

Head varsity coach Bob Vozza is proud of his squad for bringing the regional title back to the Mustang Valley. “[Winning the regional] feels great. Our boys have persevered all year and are very deserving of this title,” Vozza said.

The team had a rocky, up-and-down start to the year. Struggling at around .500 for much of the season and enduring a six-game losing streak in early January, the postseason outlook was dismal for the Mustangs.

However, this all turned around with a 58-49 win over Waubonsie Valley Jan. 23, and since then, the Mustangs have propelled themselves to an 18-12 overall record and a 10-win streak moving into the sectional-semifinal versus Hinsdale Central Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at East Aurora High School.

“Earlier in the year we were struggling; I think we did a great job of not putting our heads down and continued to practice and play as hard as we can and now that hard work is starting to show,” senior center Mark Konkle, who put up nine points and had 14 rebounds in the regional title game, said.

Senior guard Nick Dodson also believes that they are almost entirely a different team from the beginning of the season. “The biggest change from the beginning of the season has been the desire to win. Everyone on the team is playing for each other and when we play together, we are almost always victorious,” Dodson said.

The Mustangs, ranked as the eighth seed going into the regional tournament, managed the upset and only built their postseason confidence moving forward. “Beating competitive teams like LT and being on a streak has helped us so much. We are the hottest team in our sectional and no one really wants to play us right now,” junior forward Tristan Schlosser said.

The team has been focusing on improving their skills, and this hard work that they have put in throughout the season has led to their postseason success. Junior guard Montrell Oliver, who sank three consecutive three-pointers in the second quarter to keep the Mustang momentum going for the second half, also credits the team’s success to the hard work and dedication they have put forth in practice. “We knew what we wanted to accomplish and came out and played Metea basketball,” Oliver said.

Since making it to the sectional final game in 2012, the program has not seen past a regional semifinal. The team is excited to be the second ones in the program to bring home the regional plaque, and is working towards being the first to have the opportunity to cut the net at the sectional championship, as well. “We are just taking things one game at a time and are focused on playing Hinsdale Central Tuesday,” Dodson said.

By Drew Danko