By Steve Millar
Lemonts historic regular season ended in storybook fashion Friday night.
The Indians rallied from a 40-26 halftime deficit to stun No. 1 Hillcrest, Joe Hehirs driving layup with 11 seconds left lifting them to a 58-57 South Suburban Blue win in front of a packed house in Lemont.
The win, believed to be Lemonts first over Hillcrest, left the teams to share the Blue title with 13-1 league marks. Its the first conference title since 1991 for the No. 6 Indians (24-2).
This is unbelievable, Hehir said. Coach (Rick) Runaas came here knowing a lot of work had to be done to get us where he wanted us to be. I think weve gone beyond what he wanted us to be and he could have never imagined this.
Hehir (12 points) completed a wild sequence, which featured turnovers from each team, by driving down the baseline for the go-ahead score. Kyle Oden missed a runner in the final seconds for Hillcrest (21-5).
I saw Juozas (Balciunas) get checked and knew I was open in the corner, said Hehir, who was carried on the shoulders of Lemont students after the game. I saw (Jalen Loving) come out to block my shot, so I pump faked and drove. Ill never forget it.
Balciunas (15 points, 6 rebounds) led the Indians, whose balance was enough to overcome a tremendous performance by Hillcrests Jovan Mooring (26 points).
Lemont hit four three-pointers to start a 13-0 run that tied the game at 41 midway through the third.
Hillcrest led 57-53 with 4:47 to go before Mike Wisz (9 points, 12 rebounds) converted a putback, Matt Lipowski (8 points, 8 rebounds) hit a free throw and Hehir scored the game-winner.
We talked at halftime about adjusting defensively, Runaas said. We played a tighter man-to-man and that was the biggest difference.
Jayone Troutman (11 points, 6 rebounds), Oden (9 points) and Loving (6 points, 9 rebounds) contributed for Hillcrest.