HARVEY | There were tears in the Thornwood locker room Wednesday night, Thunderbirds coach Paul Slavich reported.
That could have been expected. Their 71-62 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in the Class 4A sectional semifinal at Thornton Township killed their postseason dream, one that gained authenticity with every victory during an undefeated run through conference play, plus last week's regional.
Take Chelby Frazier, for instance. He scored 15 points, 10 of them during a third-quarter push that saw the Thunderbirds erase the Vikings' lead and knot the game twice, first at 46 on a Frazier 3-pointer, then at 48 on his shot from close range.
"I tried to win," Frazier, a 5-foot-11 junior, said of putting the game on his shoulders.
And the Thunderbirds (24-5), which trailed by eight points in the second quarter, might have been able to do so, but for the tag-team combination of Tai Odiase and Malcolm Grady.
Odiase, everybody in the cavernous Thornton gym knows. The big guy in the middle for H-F, headed for Illinois-Chicago next year.
Grady? He was the first guy off the bench, and while Slavich said he knew about him, nobody could have expected him to score 25 points, complementing Odiase's 22, and missing only twice from the floor all night.
"We knew he could shoot," Slavich said. "He might have been the 'X' factor tonight."
Frazier had little doubt.
"No. 44," Frazier said when asked the difference. "All those mid-range shots. We basically didn't stop the middle."
Odiase was eventually put under control by Kaliph Fagin (6-foot-4) and Kenneth Bates (6-9). But Grady roamed free and did Thornwood in, because the 3-pointers eventually stopped falling.
Beginning with Destin Barnes' tip-in basket with a second left in the third quarter, H-F (17-11) went on an 11-0 run across 3 minutes 10 seconds. Barnes finished it by working for a basket under the rim to give H-F a 59-48 lead. It was 63-50 with 2:23 to go and Thornwood still hadn't made a field goal in the quarter, the long attempts of Frazier and his cohorts clanking off the rim. By the time he made his last 3-pointer, it was too late.
"Live by the 3, die by the 3," Slavich said. "We didn't get back in transition, and we didn't run the offense effectively enough. We didn't move side to side."