HINSDALE – As Glenbard North’s boys basketball team prepared to walk off the floor Tuesday night for the final time this season, the Panthers’ fanbase showered them with adulation. And did the Panthers ever deserve it.
Having gone on a captivating playoff run that included four nailbiting victories by a combined 13 points, Glenbard North came up just short of a trip downstate, falling 62-59 to Benet in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central supersectional.
“We wanted it real bad,” Glenbard North coach Joe Larson said. “It’s very disappointing. I think we are good enough to be there [at state] and we played like it [on Tuesday]. These guys are just a joy to coach. They play team basketball and their unselfishness was outstanding all year.”
The Panthers were less than two minutes away from a date with Edwardsville in the state semifinals Friday after a Pasquale Fiduccia 3-pointer gave them a 59-54 lead. But Collin Pellettieri answered with his seventh trifecta of the game to slice the deficit to two. He then hit the game-winning three with 26 seconds remaining.
“I closed out the best I could,” Chip Flanigan said about Pellettieri’s clutch shot. “It was a great shot. He is a big-time player and that was the play of the game.”
Flanigan, who topped the Panthers with 19 points despite battling foul trouble throughout the contest, left a lasting impression with Benet coach Gene Heidkamp.
“Flanigan is an unbelievable player and a classy young man,” Heidkamp said. “We had our hands full with him and we didn’t have an answer for him.”
Kendall Holbert and Pasquale Fiduccia scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, and Justin Jackson added nine.
“This group of guys that we have, we had fun playing together,” Jackson said. “These guys on the basketball team, you really get close to because the team has less people. We had a great year and I wouldn’t trade these last couple of months for anything.”
Glenbard North ends the 2013-14 season with a final mark of 24-6.
“I don’t think people expected us to win big games like against Proviso East and Morton,” Holbert said. “We proved to a lot of people that we are one of the best teams in the state and that we can go against anybody we want.”