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Boys Basketball: Oak Forest holds off Richards

Oak Forest's JasRolcuts around Richards' Angelo Anagnostopolous. | Jean Lachat/For Sun-Times Media

Oak Forest's Jason Roland cuts around Richards' Angelo Anagnostopolous. | Jean Lachat/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 17, 2014 11:31PM



In recent years, a 12-point first-quarter deficit would have proved too large a hole for Oak Forest.

Not this season.

Oak Forest cut its deficit against Richards to two at halftime, took the lead early in the third quarter and held on for a thrilling 64-62 South Suburban crossover win.

Deon Alexander had a chance to tie the game for Richards, but his 15-foot jumper as the buzzer sounded was off target, thrilling a large Oak Forest contingent.

“We really haven’t had a game like this in a while — a close game late,” Oak Forest coach Matt Manzke said. “We made enough plays to get it done.”

The Bengals (14-2, 6-1) led 61-49 — their largest lead of the night — with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter.

Richards, however, refused to concede. The Bulldogs reeled off a 13-2 blitz, keyed by two three-pointers by Thaer Othman and a three-point play by Dedrick Shannon Jr. (16 points).

Oak Forest’s David Gray (9 points) split a pair of free throws with 8.7 ticks left to make it 64-62, giving Richards one last chance.

It didn’t happen.

“I didn’t panic too much,” Oak Forest guard Jason Roland said. “I knew what we could do. I think this win changes a lot of people’s minds about us.”

Once again, the Bengals exhibited a balanced scoring attack. Tom Shute led the way with 18 points, including a free throw with 39.5 seconds remaining that gave Oak Forest a 63-59 edge. Kyle Flanagan added 16 points and Roland had 11.

Flanagan was a major contributor on defense as well. He and Dylan Ross were able to hold Richards forward Josh Meier to four points — 17 points below his season average. It wasn’t that Meier shot the ball poorly. The Chicago State recruit attempted just three shots all night, with Ross his primary defender and Flanagan providing key double-teams.

“It was fun,” the 6-foot-8 Flanagan said of guarding Meier. “I like to go up against him. He’s a good player.”

Richards (11-4, 6-1) buried six three-pointers in the first quarter to grab a 24-12 lead. Alexander (16 points) had three of those treys and finished with 11 points in the opening eight minutes.

The Bengals in turn applied the clamps on the Bulldogs in the second quarter, holding them to six points.

The suffocating defense led to an explosion on offense, with Shute, Gray and Flanagan scoring four points apiece in the second period. Flanagan’s free throws early in the second quarter gave Oak Forest (26-of-54 shooting) a 34-32 lead.



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