HINSDALE – It was almost deja vu for Karol Lipiszko.
Five days after hitting the game-winning shot that lifted his team to a regional title, the Hinsdale South senior was at it again.
Lipiszko’s 3-pointer put the Hornets ahead late, but Wheaton North countered with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 55-53 win in a semifinal at the Class 3A Hinsdale Central sectional March 8.
“I thought I did it again, pretty much, but I trust myself, and my teammates trust me to shoot the ball,” said Lipiszko, who finished with 11 points. “It went in, thank God.”
Lipiszko’s shot put the Hornets (19-12) up 53-52 with 6.4 seconds left, their first lead since 5-2 early in the first quarter.
Wheaton North called its final timeout and got the ball to Rowan McGowen coming off a screen on the ensuing inbounds pass. McGowen dribbled down the court, pulled up at the 3-point line and pump-faked before sinking a three that went through the hoop with 0.6 seconds left.
“There were so many big plays and they had the ball last,” Hinsdale South coach Brett Moore said. “We’ve been lucky to hit a big shot and advance twice, and tonight we did it again but they got the last touch.
“It was a heck of a play. Destin Talbert is chasing him down the floor, and a jump-stop three. It’s a heck of a play there at the end.”
The Hornets trailed 43-37 with 3:12 left before mounting a rally.
Robert Barnes came off a screen for an uncontested layup on Nick Perry’s inbounds pass to make it 43-39. Diamond Anderson and Terreon Hopkins followed with buckets. Hopkins’ layup off Anderson’s pass made it 45-43 with 1:11 left.
Anderson (10 points) scored twice with under a minute left, and Zion Griffin, who scored a game-high 20 points, connected on his only 3-pointer of the game with 22.3 seconds left to get South to within 51-50. Griffin then assisted on Lipiszko’s three that had the Hornets dreaming of a sectional championship game appearance.
“Zion hits a big three, we get it back and Karol hits a big three and it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, we did this again,’” Moore said. “Then as soon as the ball left [McGowen’s] hand, you knew it had a chance. They had great action to get him open, and that was an incredible shot he hit. Incredible game, incredible shot, and a tough way to go out.”
Incredible also could describe the Hornets’ season.
After last season South saw four starters who accounted for most of its scoring graduate, along with plenty of bench depth from a team that won a regional title. But an untested group found a way to claim a share of the West Suburban Gold title and a second straight regional title as a No. 10 seed, and Griffin, Lipiszko and Perry were West Suburban all-conference players.
“We’re up there with anyone. Throughout the season we’ve been improving. Every week we’ve been getting better and better because of our coaching and how close our team is,” Lipiszko said. “Our record doesn’t really reflect who we are.
“We had people doubting us because we had a great year last year and not many returning guys. ... We came out, did what we needed to do this season, and proved a lot of people wrong. We had a great year, a great run.”