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Downers Grove

Spinuzza’s buzzer-beater lifts Mustangs at Thanksgiving tourney

DOWNERS GROVE – Danny Spinuzza sunk a buzzer-beating half-court shot to propel Downers Grove South boys basketball to its first win of the season.

Although the Mustangs returned with just one win in four games at the St. Charles East Ron Johnson tournament, the lone victory came in dramatic fashion.

Facing North Lawndale in the opening round of the annual Thanksgiving tournament, the two squads exchanged leads multiple times before Downers South built a slight cushion in the fourth quarter.

But the Mustangs’ inability to knock down late free throws kept North Lawndale in the game, according to head coach Kris Olson, and the two teams found themselves tied with just two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Running an inbounds play along South’s own baseline, Spinuzza caught the ball before mid court, took two dribbles, then hoisted up a prayer right before time expired. The senior guard rattled home the shot, giving South a 51-48 win.

“It was a dramatic way to begin the season,” Olson said. “Danny was our best player during the entire tournament. He is very good under pressure and wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line.”

Spinuzza finished with 15 points during the season-opening victory.

But Downers Grove South could not carry over that momentum into the next three tournament games, losing to Plainfield East 67-58, St. Charles North 67-46, and St. Charles East 74-72.

Still, Olson applauded his team’s effort and called the opening games a learning experience.

“Overall, I thought we played really well,” Olson said. “We played some tough competition and we were in three of the four games and had a chance to win three [of the] games in the fourth quarter.

“I think it was a positive way to open the season and we will look to build off of that in practice and the upcoming games.”

After playing four games in five days at St. Charles East, the Mustangs had nearly a week between the tourney finale last Saturday and this Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Addison Trail in the West Suburban Gold conference opener. South will be on the road again when it plays at Hinsdale South in a WSG contest Dec. 13.

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