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Boys Basketball: Homewood-Flossmoor pulls off escape vs. Sandburg

Homewood-Flossmoor DestBarnes has easy finger roll basket. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times media.

Homewood-Flossmoor Destin Barnes has a easy finger roll to the basket. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times media.

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Updated: March 27, 2014 6:41AM



Homewood-Flossmoor got word Tuesday afternoon from the IHSA that it would be allowed to participate in the state playoffs next week. The Vikings were under investigation for violating the IHSA’s early-season conditioning program.

H-F then went out and celebrated at Sandburg’s expense.

The good times, however, lasted for just one half.

The Vikings watched a 20-point first-half lead dissolve to three with 8.5 seconds remaining in the game. Sandburg had two chances to tie the game in the waning moments, but three-pointers by Matt Piazza and Eric Straka were off the mark. H-F survived and departed Sandburg’s gym with a 56-53 SouthWest Suburban Red victory.

“First off, we’re happy with the decision by (IHSA executive director) Marty Hickman and to have a chance to play next week,” H-F coach Jim McLaughlin said. “It’s been a tough week, but it turned out well for us. As far as the game, we almost let a 20-point lead get away from us. Give them credit, they had a great game plan in the second half.”

The Vikings (13-11, 8-3) had a great first half, though. Tai Odiase was unstoppable inside, recording 18 of his game-high 25 points in the first 16 minutes. He also added 10 rebounds to his night.

Odiase and teammate Destin Barnes combined for 20 of the Vikings’ first 22 points. The Vikings unleashed a 17-3 spurt, with Jaylen Thompson joining in the fun with five points, that stretched their lead to 33-13.

“Tai showed what he can do and he did a great job on the defensive end,” McLaughlin said.

By the time the third quarter ended, H-F had a seemingly comfortable 49-34 advantage. The Vikings, however, scored just seven points in the final quarter, mightily struggling against the Eagles’ man-to-man defense.

Sandburg (9-16, 5-8) found its shooting stroke over the final eight minutes. Straka (14 points) and Alec Martinez (10 points) knocked down threes to cut the margin 55-48 with 1:12 to go. A little later, Piazza (12 points) buried another three — his fourth of the night — with 23.2 seconds left that cut the deficit to 55-53.

After Emmanuel Watts split two free throws with 8.5 seconds left, the Eagles set up a final game-tying shot. Piazza had a good look from the corner, but misfired, as did Straka from the wing.

“I’m proud of the way the kids battled back in the second half,” Sandburg coach Todd Allen said. “We were absolutely flat in the first half.”



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