Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
By Matt Le Cren
Downers South center Ziggy Riauka knew his team could beat Proviso East, but he didnt think it was capable of blowing out the Pirates.
But thats exactly what the host Mustangs did Friday night, sprinting out to a big early lead en route to a 60-48 victory that clinched a share of the West Suburban Conference Gold Division championship. It is the first time Downers South (22-3, 10-1) has beaten Proviso East twice in the same season.
It means a lot, Riauka said. Last year we got blown out both times, so this is a good game for us. We hit a lot of good three-point shots that were open and some that were not open but we were still able to hit them. So we got off to a good start and thats what mattered.
The 6-8 Riauka, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, swished a three-pointer that triggered an 18-3 run that gave the Mustangs a 27-9 lead in the second quarter. Downers South, which has won 14 straight, hit six consecutive shots at one point, including treys from three different players on three consecutive possessions.
I started off pretty bad, Riauka said. I couldnt catch the ball or hit a layup, so I just took a three-pointer and it went in, maybe by accident.
It was no accident that South dominated the game, extending its lead to as much as 40-18 in the third quarter. The Mustangs, who beat the Pirates (19-4, 9-2) by an identical score on Jan. 21, take pride in their defense and allowed just 13 points in the first half, including four in the second quarter despite playing the last six minutes without star Jerron Wilbut, who was in foul trouble. Riaukas defense inside was a big factor.
Zig has done a lot of good things for us, Wilbut said. Hes a man down there in the post. He got off to a little rocky start but he got it together and made the right passes and the right plays.
Proviso East made five straight steals and scored the last eight points of the third quarter to pull within 44-32. The Pirates made 5 of 6 three-point tries in the period.
But Riauka helped stop the bleeding by breaking the press and assisting on baskets by Jamaal Millison and Kevin Honn. Then, after a jumper by Proviso Easts Sterling Brown made it 52-41 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, Danielius Jurgutis scored on a reverse layup off a no-look pass from Wilbut.
The Pirates cut it to 56-46 with 1:26 remaining, but Jurgutis and Wilbut answered with layups for the Mustangs, who shot 23 of 44 from the floor and 9 of 12 from the line and outrebounded Proviso 32-22. We knew they were going to have a lot of runs and we just played through it, Riauka said. We didnt give up.
Wilbut led a balanced attack with 16 points and six rebounds, while Millison added 12 points, six boards and three assists and Jurgutis tallied 10 points, four assists and four steals. Honn chipped in nine points and seven boards.
Proviso East is a really good basketball team, known for their defense and their relentless scoring, Wilbut said. Just to be in that kind of war with them and beat them is a blessing. Thats what we work hard for every day in the gym.
Brown scored 17 points to lead the Pirates, whose only losses in the past 14 games have been to Downers. Guards Keith Carter and Paris Lee added 10 and eight points, respectively, but the pair combined for just two points in the first half when the Pirates made only 6 of 25 shots.