Aces Defeat RZJHS
On Saturday night the Aces headed up north to take on their friendly rival, the newly renamed Rochelle Zell Jewish High School. The name may have changed but the atmosphere did not: big, loud crowds from both schools and roaring on every basket that getting louder as the game went on.
After a close first quarter, the Aces raced out to a 10-point lead in the second, but the Tigers clawed their way back and took a one-point halftime lead. The Aces struggled out of the half, turning the ball over in their first three possessions, but stayed even. In the fourth quarter, however, more Aces turnovers helped the Tigers grow more confident and the home team stretched what was a 40-40 game to a 48-40 lead with only 1:20 remaining.
But much like the rest of this season, the Aces simply refused to give up. Over the next eighty seconds, they executed their inbounds denial press to near perfection, securing multiple turnovers while taking little time off the clock. Junior Daniel Otani made a free throw, followed by junior Josh Goldrich’s three-pointer, to cut it to 48-44. After two CJHS free throws made it a six-point game, Goldrich hit another three with 13 seconds to go. Again the Tigers were unable to inbound successfully, and used their final timeout. On the final play of regulation, the Tigers attempted a deep inbounds pass which Aces senior captain Ethan Frank intercepted at half court; Frank then found Otani — who just three days prior had hit a game-winning buzzer beater at St. Benedict — and Otani banked in the game tying three-pointer with three seconds to go, as the Aces crowd erupted. In the overtime, junior Zack Cooper hit a three to open the scoring, and the Aces never looked back, holding on for the thrilling, heart-thumping 60-55 victory.