Winnetka, Sports

March Madness is here: Kirkpatrick’s buzzer beater delivers sectional title to New Trier

New Trier basketball practices its special play “Celtic” a lot, but since it is built for a rare circumstance, it’s rarely used.

“That’s a play we work on so much at practice … so it can get frustrating running it all the time every day, like when are we finally going to use it,” Trevians senior Logan Feller said.

And he got that answer Friday night, when New Trier ran Celtic to perfection to top Glenbrook North, 46-43, at the buzzer in an IHSA Class 4A sectional championship at Maine South High School.

With just over 2 seconds on the clock, Feller inbounded the ball from near halfcourt, airing a pass to the far low block where Will Leemaster leapt to catch it and, in midair, zipped it to cutting sophomore Chris Kirkpatrick at the three-point line on the wing.

Kirkpatrick’s shot hit nothing but the bottom of the net.

“I was telling (coach Scott Fricke) the whole time as he was drawing it up ‘Run Celtic, run Celtic, run Celtic,'” Kirkpatrick said. “I wanted to shoot it and I knew it was going in.”

How did he know it was going in? Was it instinct? Insight? Clairvoyance?

Nope, it was breakfast.

“When I woke up this morning, I made my omelette and it was a double (yolk) egg,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a good day.”

That double-egg really kicked in in the fourth quarter, when Kirkpatrick scored 10 of 16 points as the Trevians climbed out of a six-point hole.

The sophomore and Spartans senior Josh Fridman (7 fourth-quarter points) went toe-to-toe in the final quarter, but Kirkpatrick and the Trevians had a bit more in the tank.

Feller (10 points, 8 rebounds), Will Leemaster (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Colby Smith (8 points) all had big buckets to get the Trevians back in the game in the fourth.

With the game knotted at 43-43, Glenbrook North tried to play for the final shot, draining more than a minute off the clock. But New Trier’s pressure forced a turnover with 8 seconds to play — the pivotal moment of the game if you ask Trevians coach Scott Fricke.

“I thought the play of the game was we ran a double (team of Smith and Leemaster at the Spartans ball handler) at the end and he had to extend it so wide that he stepped out of bounds,” Fricke said.

GBN used two fouls to disrupt New Trier’s offense and take some time off the clock. After the Spartans final foul, Fricke thought some extra time came off the clock.

It’s a good thing it did.

“We have a couple plays in situations like that. If they would have put another second on the clock, like (I thought) they should have … I would have ran something different,” he said. “So I’m glad they didn’t.”

Sophomore Chris Kirkpatrick gets to the rim for a fourth-quarter basket.

In the first half, the Trevians and Spartans battled to a near stalemate, and a stubborn one at that.

The familiar foes struggled to put points on the board, and New Trier took a 14-12 advantage into halftime.

It was a battle of the bigs in the third quarter. Leemaster scored 6 points, while GBN’s Patrick Schaller went off for 13 to completely swing the game in the Spartans’ favor heading into the final quarter.

In that quarter, New Trier chipped into the six-point deficit thanks to its defense, which forced four fourth-quarter turnovers, and Kirkpatrick’s heroics.

Fricke said New Trier added a wrinkle to its offense, including more ball screens to try and throw GBN off. Kirkpatrick took advantage, getting to the rim several times in the fourth quarter.

“We thought we could take advantage in ball-screening situations and that’s not really our offense,” Fricke said. “But we did it for this game, and he was getting to the rim. He was hesitating, getting guys on his hip and finishing.”

The victory gave New Trier, the No. 4 seed in the Maine South sectional, its second straight sectional championship. To return to the state finals, the Trevians must down Glenbard North, a four seed that beat York on Friday night, on Monday evening at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates — 8 p.m. tipoff.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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