The Lane Tech Indians (9-12,3-5) dropped their fourth straight section game to Mather 43-42 on Monday afternoon. The losses have meant a dramatic change in fortune for the boys team as they sink in conference play.
The Mather High School Rangers (16-4, 6-2) needed a win to keep pace with co-leaders Foreman and Lincoln Park who share the top spot in the Red North with one conference loss.
“I’m extremely pleased we won the game,” admitted Mather head coach Glen Heffernan. “We lost two games in conference to Foreman and Uplift. We’re one point away from being a three-way tie for first place. Somebody has to come in and finish second. I’m pleased with the season so far. I’m pleased with our players. I’m pleased we won today.”
“I don’t want to take anything away from Mather, they are an unbelievable team. We break everything down into four minute segments. We won more four minute segments than them tonight. We just have to put the ball in the hole a little bit more.”
Lane rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first quarter and a 13-point deficit in the second quarter.
This was an offensive struggle as Mather overcame 14-of-54 shooting by making 11 free throws in the final quarter.
Mather was led by guards Glen Heffernan and Brandon Roby who scored 11 points each in the victory at home where the Rangers were limited to only three three-point baskets.
Lane struggled at the foul line missing 11 free throws. Led by Eric Butler, who came off the bench to score 13 points, Dillan Torres added 12 points to Lane’s total.
“I give Lane credit,” said Heffernan who guided the Rangers to Blue North section championship last season. “They are not in the top two or three spots in the conference. Lane played very good. I don’t know if they brought their “A” game. I think our players took them for granted. They thought they might have an easy win and that’s why we had to win at the end of the game.”
Mather could never put Lane away and as a result took only a one-point lead into the final quarter.
Back-to-back baskets by Butler gave a Lane a 34-33 lead. Mather responded by holding the Indians without a basket until a three-pointer at the buzzer by Butler.
The Rangers sealed the win by making 6-of-10 free throws in the last 90 seconds while Lane missed four free throws in that span.
“We know that we are not quitters,” said Nick Logalbo. “We’ve learned that we w ill stay in and fight in every game. Free throws and finishing at the rim are the details we are not taking care of right now.”
How good is Mather? The Rangers will add two players for the city and state playoffs who were ineligible.
Last year, Simeon who won the Class 4A title beat Mather in the city playoffs 60-30. Loyola beat Mather 56-35 in the regional championship.
“I think it’s a good team,” said Mather assistant coach Manny Weincord who has been coaching in the Public League since 1964. “We’ll be a lot stronger at the end of the month with two add-ons. They are both excellent players. Both guys may be in the starting lineup and if not they will make the bench stronger. I think this team can do a pretty good job in the playoffs.”
Only one team from this area has ever won a regional and sectional and that was Von Steuben in 2003.
The last team from this area of the city to win the Public League championship was Roosevelt in 1952.
Mather is hoping to rewrite history in 2011.