LANSING | Maybe it was the pressure of senior night, and maybe it was the pressure of being in the middle of a South Suburban Conference title hunt. Most likely, it was simply because T.F. South didn't play the game they needed to play to win.
The Rebels fell to Lemont, 60-57, in South Suburban Blue action Friday on senior night in Lansing. The Rebels trailed Lemont the entire game and were forced to battle to get back into the game late. Despite the poor performance, T.F. South had a chance to tie with two seconds remaining, but a late three-point attempt by Ka-Ton Mays came off the back of the rim.
"I know senior night's a big night and there is added pressure with the seniors," T.F. South coach John O'Rourke said. "Yeah, we've been talking about the importance of this game, and we've had a lot of big games before this. If you're going to want to make those opportunities become realities, you have to come out and play every night."
Lemont (13-11, 7-5) jumped out to a five-point lead after one quarter and led by six going into the half. T.F. South (12-12, 9-3) was unable to consistently attack Lemont's 2-3 defensive zone, and the Rebels struggled to get the offense going early in the game.
Donald Stone finished the game with 21 points for the Rebels, scoring 10 in the first half. What seemed to hurt the Rebels the most on this night was the free throws. T.F. South managed just 11 of 26 from the line, while Lemont finished 17 of 23.
"We didn't attack the zone like we talked about wanting to do," O'Rourke said. "We just squandered a lot of opportunities. A lot of missed free throws, a lot of missed layups. We didn't go to the basket hard, and we played tentative that whole first half."
Trailing by six with 1:17 remaining in the game, the Rebels mounted a furious comeback. A full court pass from Ronald Ryan to Mays gave Mays a good look at the basket, but the senior guard hit the back of the iron at the buzzer. Mays finished the game with 12 points for the Rebels, and teammate DeAson Taylor added eight points and 10 rebounds. The loss knocked the Rebels out of contention for a SSC title.
"They outhustled us and out battled us and it showed," O'Rourke said. "It was an uphill battle the entire game."