Northside Vs. Payton and Liam O’Connor’s Game Winner
By Alina Yamin
The Northside men’s basketball team has had an outstanding season so far. The Mustangs’ record is 12-9 overall and 7-2 in the conference. This record is especially impressive because the team is now in the White-North conference in which they face much tougher competition than they did last year in the Blue Conference. Some of the team’s most impressive victories occurred against Steinmetz and Yeshiva.
Every year, Northside’s Men’s Basketball team plays a homecoming game. It takes place after the school pep rally and it is always the highest attended basketball game of the season. This game was especially thrilling because it was played against Northside’s primary rival, Walter Payton. Last year, Northside played Payton for its senior day game and lost by two points in overtime. The team was pumped up to play Payton again and have the opportunity to avenge itself.
The atmosphere in the gym was unbelievable; the bleachers were completely filled with students and parents, and the cheerleaders and Poms teams were both there to cheer on the Mustangs. All of these factors made the noise in the gym thunderous. The amazing energy inspired Northside and also intimidated Payton.
The Mustangs started seniors Danny O’Connor, Adv. 901, and Campbell O’Conor, Adv. 903, as well as juniors Jack Vasilopoulos, Adv. 006, Jake Trick, Adv. 004, and Jack Newhall, Adv. 004. The Mustangs got off to a slow start offensively but had strong defense. The first quarter ended with Payton up 11-6. In the second quarter, the Mustangs played very well and cut Payton’s lead to two points (19-17). The Mustangs scored twelve points in the third quarter and ended the quarter up by two points (29-27).
The final quarter was close for the entire twelve minutes. With about one minute to go, the score was tied 36-36. One of Payton’s best players was at the free throw line. The crowd erupted in noise and he missed his first shot. Unfortunately for Northside, he made his second free throw and the score became 37-36.
For almost the entire last minute, neither team was able to score. With eight seconds left, however, Northside was inbounding the ball at the baseline at the opposite end of its basket. Dino Konstantinidis, Adv. 908, inbounded the ball to Trick who passed it to C. O’Conor who was at half court. C. O’Connor made a beautiful bounce pass to L. O’Connor, who scored the game-winning right handed layup. The crowd went wild and there was not enough time left for Payton to even have a chance to score.
As C. O’Conor said, “The game this year was great. We came in wanting to dominate and the atmosphere really helped hype us up. We felt good at half time up by one despite some team foul trouble and came back hungry in that second second half to try and get the win. I think that win helped us gain a lot of confidence and gave us a legitimate chance to win conference. The mindset we had that game really carried over into our next match up at Von for their senior day.”
All Northsiders should come out to support the men’s team for their senior day on Feb. 14 and create just as an exciting environment that was created during the homecoming game.