The Skinny: Tommy DiNaso didn’t have to score a single point to make his point in Lincoln-Way East’s 34-29 boys basketball victory over district rival Lincoln-Way Central Friday night in New Lenox.
Defense wins games.
DiNaso, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, blocked a potential game-tying three-pointer by Central’s Joe Newtoff with 7.7 seconds left. The ball kicked out of bounds and the Knights retained possession. Brad Bass missed on another three-pointer. East’s Eric Spudic rebounded and was fouled.
Spudic hit two free throws and East (7-7, 1-4) climbed back to the .500 mark and notched its first win in Southwest Suburban Blue Conference play. The Griffins also upped their record to 2-1 this season against Central. The Knights made three straight threes and rallied for a 49-44 victory when the two last met at the Medieval Classic.
Patch’s MVP: Tommy DiNaso, 6-1, junior guard, Lincoln-Way East. He didn’t score a point, but he did block a potential game-tying three-pointer by Central’s Joe Newtoff in the final seconds.
“I saw the play developing in my mind,” DiNaso said. “And I saw the guy (Newtoff) standing wide open in the quarter, so I thought, ‘He’s probably going to shoot it.’ So, I thought, ‘Why not go for it?’ In that situation—up by three—you don’t want them to take a three.
“I’d rather have them drive it or maybe try to block the shot. No, you don’t want a foul. I was back off a little more than normal. I wasn’t going to hit him on the arm.”
Key Moments: Lincoln-Way East made 5-of-6 shots and jumped to an 11-2 in the first quarter. Jon Junkroski capped the run with a basket in the lane at the 3:43 mark.
Lincoln-Way East Leaders: Chris DeRubertis (11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 three-pointer), Jon Junkroski (6 points, 4 rebounds), Eric Spudic (4 points, including two free throws with 2 seconds left).
Lincoln-Way Central Leaders: Joe Newtoff (11 points, two three-pointers, both in the fourth quarter), Brad Bass (10 points, 7 rebounds), Kevin Mampe (4 points, all in the second half).
Quotable I: “It was a big win, it was a conference game, a rivalry game,” Lincoln-Way East’s Tommy DiNaso said. “We’ve dropped a couple that we should have won. It was a big game to get the train rolling. Maybe this will be the one and we’ll just keep rolling.”
Quotable II: “You know what, it starts in the beginning of the game,” Lincoln-Way Central coach Bob Curran said. “They got up 11-2 and we were playing catch-up all game. So, to East’s credit, maybe they were more ready to play. They wanted it more—I don’t know—whatever it was. But I’m proud of our kids. They battled back.
“And, on a horrible, horrible shooting night, I thought our kids showed some grit and some toughness to stay in the game. And, for shooting as poorly as we did, to still have one possession to tie it up with 15 seconds and then 7 seconds, I’m proud of the kids for that. Because sometimes when shooting doesn’t go well, it affects your defense. And I thought we still played good defense.”
Quotable III: “It’s a matter of these kids know each other so well,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rich Kolimas said. “This is our third time playing each other. We know each other’s system. They know what we’re going to do. We think we know what they’re going to do. And it’s hard to get clean looks at the basket. So, it was muddied up—again."
Team Records: Lincoln-Way East is 7-7 overall and 1-4 in the Southwest Suburban Blue. Lincoln-Way Central is 7-9 and 0-5.
What’s Next: Both teams resume play on Friday, Jan. 18. Lincoln-Way Central plays host to Homewood-Flossmoor. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. in New Lenox. Lincoln-Way East plays at Lockport. Game time is 7:30 p.m.