From where coach Scott Fricke and many others were standing, the game-tying shot attempt from Karlo Colak “looked like it was down.”
But in a rough metaphor of its sectional-championship evening, the bounce didn’t go New Trier’s way.
Colak’s three-pointer as time expired hit both sides of the rim and fell to the floor as the buzzer sounded, cuing an on-court, sectional-title celebration for Glenbrook South and its fans on Friday, March 4, in Glenview.
“With all that went wrong in the third and fourth quarters … we put ourselves in position with the ball in a one-possession game,” Fricke said. “I thought the shot was good, and it wasn’t. … Our guys fought hard.”
The 55-52 result was the culmination of years of high-level matchups between the players on both sides. This season, New Trier and Glenbrook South were on a short list of the state’s best teams, compiling a combined record of 62 wins to 5 losses entering the sectional championship.
The elite matchup drew a standing-room-only crowd to the Titan Dome
The Trevians’ 22-20 first-half lead — which was led by sturdy defense and Jackson Munro’s 10 points — was flipped by the Titans in the pivotal third quarter. Hot shooting helped GBS build a seven-point lead, from which New Trier never fully recovered.
“In the third quarter, when things started to turn their way, we went on a scoring drought,” Trevs senior Jackson Munro said. “They hit some shots in that quarter and built a lead. We tried to claw back, but it wasn’t enough in the end.”
In the final quarter, the Trevs trimmed the Titans’ lead, but then, GBS played an elaborate and effective game of keep-away.
One Titans’ possession drained nearly three minutes of game clock and forced the Trevians into hurry-up mode. The frenzy led to Titans finding open teammates for open shots. One of those was a three from Cooper Noard (game-high 27 points) to make it an eight-point game, 45-37, with three minutes to play.
“When GBS gets up and starts holding the ball and we have to get up and guard them, it’s very hard to still contain their best scorers,” New Trier senior Josh Kirkpatrick said.
While things looked bleak for New Trier, Kirkpatrick and company weren’t going down easy.
The senior guard went on a rampage, scoring 15 points in 2 minutes and 50 seconds to keep his team alive. He went 5-of-5 from the free-throw line and hit two 3-pointers, including a deep trey that got his team within one point, 53-52, with 9 seconds to go.
“I guess in my mind I’m like I don’t want this to end. I don’t want this amazing season to end,” Kirkpatrick said. “So I stepped up. I guess I hit some big shots, got us some momentum. … It wasn’t enough. I just played my heart out. That’s all you can do, leave it all on the floor.”
While Kirkpatrick was firing on all cylinders, Glenbrook South was converting its free throws to maintain the lead. In the final few minutes, Noard was 4-of-4 and All-State forward Nick Martinelli (12 points) was 5-of-6 from the line.
Kirkpatrick led the Trevians with 21 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Munro added 12 points (10 in the first half) and 7 rebounds, while junior Jake Fiegen chipped in 11 points and Colak 6.
When Colak’s game-tying attempt rimmed away, it ended a historic season for the Trevians.
With the three-point loss to end their campaign, Fricke was proud of his team’s effort in a difficult environment.
“I just told these guys the result of today is something that we didn’t want, but these guys are champions,” he said. “I mean, it was a tough situation. (The Titans) get a home game in a sectional. They’re a really good team, we’re a really good team and I think they beat us by the margin of them playing at home. … Win or lose this game, I’m so proud of (our team).”
New Trier set a program record for wins (30) in a season while playing a rough-and-tumble schedule that included victories over numerous state-ranked opponents, including Glenbrook South, Rolling Meadows (twice), Bolingbrook, Yorkville Christian and Benet Academy.
Fricke was confident in saying “this team will go down as the best team in the history of New Trier.”
“We’ve had some really good teams,” he said. “This team, we had the pieces. We had the point guard, the shooters, the post presence, the toughness, and no one else has 30 wins. … Thirty and three coming into this game with the schedule we amped up this year — that is incredible.”
Munro and Kirkpatrick agreed it was more than the wins and losses and the trophies and honors. They said that the senior-led group banded together to chase a dream
And while a state championship was not in the cards, they built something special along the way.
“We just all loved each other. We loved being with each other every day at practice,” Munro said. “I knew I was going to smile, I knew I was going to laugh because of the people I was with. I just looked forward to it every day. I’m going to miss everyone. This is a special group.”
Kirkpatrick concluded, “For the last five years everyone in that locker room committed to the idea that we were going to be the best New Trier team in history. Whether it be hot summer days or weekends, we’d all get in the gym and work out together and what made us a special team was we all loved each other. We all played for the guy next to us and we just worked as hard as we could to get to where we are.”