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Boys Basketball: Oak Forest tops Oswego East for tournament title at Romeoville

Updated: February 1, 2014 6:20AM

Pure skill can only take a player so far.

The rest comes down to some good, old-fashioned effort.

Monday night when their team needed them most, Oak Forest’s Tom Shute and Jason Roland both came through with huge effort plays, lifting the Bengals to a 85-72 win over Oswego East to claim the Romeoville Christmas Classic title.

“The thing we say every day is, ‘Winning is hard,’ ” Shute said. “We try to outwork the other team every time out.”

Shute finished with a game-high 31 points for Oak Forest (10-2), with tournament MVP Kyle Flanagan (17 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks), David Gray (14 points), Armon Williams (10 points) and Roland (9 points, 10 assists) also contributing.

The tournament championship was the first for Oak Forest since 1983. Before Monday, the Bengals last appeared in a championship game in 1987.

“This means a lot to our team,” Shute said. “It’s been 30 years since we won a Christmas tournament. I don’t think we’ve had a start like this (10-2) in a long time, either.”

Trying to hold off a never-say-die Oswego East team, it was Roland coming through off his own missed free throw midway through the fourth quarter. The senior lunged for the rebound, scooped up the ball, dribbled out to the corner and zipped a pass into Shute under the basket for a wide-open layup.

The highlight assist and score gave Oak Forest a 70-59 lead.

“I knew it was short, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t step over the line,” Roland said. “I hustled and I wanted it more than the other guy. Took it, found the open man, Shute hits the layup.”

Later, the 6-foot-1 Shute rebounded an East miss and went the length of the court, driving hard for a contested layup, drawing a foul and converting the three-point play.

Shute’s head’s up play gave the Bengals a commanding 78-62 advantage with 2:03 to go.

“We had to stay tough mentally,” Roland said. “(In the fourth), I was able to break the press and find the open man.”

Devin Flowers scored 28 points for Oswego East (4-8), with Mike McAlister adding 14. The Wolves hit just 2-of-7 free throws in the fourth quarter while hitting 11-of-35 three-pointers.

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