Jake Fiegen’s desire to win knows no bounds. Not even the final buzzer.
Fiegen’s 12-point fourth-quarter effort spearheaded New Trier’s 47-46 comeback, sectional-championship victory over Glenbrook North on Friday, March 3, in Northfield, and afterward, he was already craving Monday’s supersectional matchup.
“(A sectional title) means so much, but at least for me right now, I don’t think I can really comprehend how much,” Fiegen said. “Seeing the coaches makes me realize what this really means … but right now, I don’t feel super crazy. I’m just looking forward to Monday and I just want more.”
New Trier (31-4), the sectional’s top seed, was down as much as 13 to GBN (28-5), the sectional’s second seed, in the first half and trailed by nine to at halftime.
In the second half, the Trevians immediately began cutting into the Spartans’ lead, which disappeared early in the fourth quarter. GBN regained the advantage, but a Fiegen post-up basket tied the game at 46-46 late in the contest.
New Trier got the ball back with 1 minute 19 seconds to play and held for the final shot, putting the ball in the hands of senior point guard Evan Kanellos to make something happen.
“They weren’t really pressuring … and I was right by the bench and (coaches) called spread, which means spread the floor and take him to the basket,” Kanellos said. “I had been getting there all night. I didn’t finish (many) … but I could get there. I got there and he fouled me.”
Off the shooting foul, Kanellos missed the first free-throw attempt but sank the second to give his team a one-point lead with 5.1 seconds remaining.
The Trevians contested Glenbrook North’s game-winning attempt, and though the heart-stopping three-point try was on target, it rimmed out of the hoop, cuing a celebration on New Trier’s home court.
“I got to tell you: We struggled early,” Trevs coach Scott Fricke said. “This team is so tough that they just persevered and we found a way to win.
“All that adversity. … It’s amazing we came back and won it.”
New Trier scored just one point in the first quarter to fall into an early 9-1 hole, which could have been deeper had it not been for the defensive play of senior center Tyler Van Gorp (4 blocks, 4 rebounds in first quarter).
The Trevians got going a bit in the second quarter, but mostly at the free-throw line as Spartans’ fouls put New Trier in the bonus nearly the entire period. The Trevs first field goal did not come until 12:22 into the contest — or with 3:38 left in the first half.
Glenbrook North held a 24-15 lead at the break.
“I think we were really stagnant,” Fiegen said. “I tried to force some things and we didn’t get the ball moving, and that’s not us. We needed to get the ball moving earlier and have everyone get a feel for the game.”
New Trier was a different team to start the third quarter.
Junior Logan Feller converted a driving lay-in, and sophomore Colby Smith drained a pair of 3-pointers, and in no time it was a one-possession affair, 26-23, in favor of GBN.
The Spartans regained control, but in the fourth quarter, Fiegen got cooking.
He started with a pair of layups — one plus a foul — off backdoor cuts. His 3-pointer from the corner gave the Trevs their first lead of the game, 42-41, with 6:08 to go. And after GBN grabbed the lead again, he recorded a steal and scored on back-to-back low-post touches — the second of which tied the game at 46-46.
“They are a smaller team,” Fiegen said. “I know if I catch it in the post I’m going to score or they’re going to have to double and I can kick out, or they are going to foul. So post touches for us are really good percentage-wise.”
GBN came down the court and missed a 3-pointer. Fiegen grabbed the rebound to set up Kanellos’ drive to the hoop and game-winning free throw.
It was the second game-winning points Kanellos scored in the week. In a sectional-semifinal win against Glenbrook South three days earlier, his layup at the buzzer was the difference.
“It’s wild, just absolutely wild,” Kanellos said.
Fiegen finished with a game-high 19 points, while Smith chipped in 9 and Kanellos 7. Feller had 4 points and 6 rebounds, and Van Gorp totaled 5 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocks.
The Spartans (28-5) were led by junior Sam Lappin (15 points) and seniors Ryan Cohen and Gavin Schooley (8 apiece).
With the win, New Trier not only advances to the IHSA Class 4A elite eight, but it also sets a program record with 31 victories — previously set at 30 one year ago.
The Trevians will take on Libertyville (29-5) in the supersectional round at 8 p.m. Monday, March 6, at NOW Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy, in Hoffman Estates. The winner is off to the state finals Friday-Saturday, March 10-11, at State Farm Center in Champaign.
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