Boys Basketball: Stagg closes out Richards
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org March 4, 2014 9:46PM
Stagg's Sebastion Kolpak (10) drives to the basket against Richards in Palos Heights Tuesday, March, 4, 2014. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 6, 2014 6:19AM
When Max Strus dunked an alley-oop pass from Nick Sims on Stagg’s second possession of Tuesday night’s game against Richards, thrilling the Charger Nation student section, the tone for the rest of the evening had been set.
Strus was on a mission, and there wasn’t anyone on Richards capable of stopping him.
The 6-foot-6 guard scored 34 points, leading No. 6 seed Stagg to a 66-57 win over No. 11 Richards in a Shepard Regional semifinal.
The Chargers’ reward is a regional final date Friday with four-time Class 4A defending state champion Simeon, which earlier Tuesday dispatched Shepard 80-40.
“I don’t want the season to end,” Strus said. “I want to keep playing. I want to keep playing for Stagg and I want to end my season strong.”
The loss officially ended the career of Richards coach John Chappetto, who announced his resignation Friday upon completion of the season.
“The better-coached team won for sure,” Chappetto said. “They were smart in the way they played, and they know they have a real star (Strus) out there.”
Richards, too, has a star in 6-7 Josh Meier. The problem on this night, however, was that he was in foul trouble. Meier had three fouls in the first half — Stagg led 29-21 at intermission — before picking up his fifth foul with 6:21 remaining in the game.
Coincidentally, Meier fouled Strus, who still managed to hit the three. Strus then hit the free throw for the four-point play and 52-44 lead.
The Bulldogs never got to within eight points the rest of the way.
“Max is special,” Stagg coach John Daniels said. “He’s had performances like this before. Max can do so much.”
That was proved just moments after converting the four-point play. Strus dribbled through two defenders before firing a three-quarters-court-length pass to Sims (11 points) for an easy two points and 54-44 lead.
Spencer Tears matched Meier for team-high honors with 16 points. Thaer Othman added 15 for the Bulldogs (17-12).
Kevin White contributed 11 points for Stagg, which won its 22nd game, a school record for most victories in a season.