Scouts Fall In Overtime Heartbreaker to Mundelein, Lose 56-48


Peter Elliott, Editor

Peter Elliott, Editor

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — No one shoots better than Cade Nowik in front of the student section.

Nowik, an already prolific shooter, seems to feed off the rapturous energy that is found in abundance in the far corner of the Competition Gym.

Ever since he went 3-3 from the spot against Lake Zurich, the student section has grown to adore the sophomore shooting guard.

Like Steve Nash at the free throw line or Trae Young from the logo, Nowik owns the left wing adjacent to the “Comp Gym Crazies.”

So when Nowik was presented with an opportunity to let one fly in front of the Lake Forest faithful with four seconds left in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game against Mundelein, the ball seemed destined for the bottom of the net.

He pump-faked and took a dribble to his right before finding separation and deftly fading away, beating the buzzer on a deep three that sent his peers into jubilation.

The shot put the Scouts up seven points over a vaunted Mundelein team that few expected to be trailing heading into the fourth quarter.

In a reversal of December’s 58-24 blowout meeting in which the Scouts were laughed out of the Mundelein gym, Coach Phil LaScala’s crew were more than holding their own against the Mustangs (21-3, 7-1 NSC) up to that point.

Nowik’s three-pointer was the high point of a fever dream performance for the Scouts against the 10th ranked team in the state and perhaps the biggest ‘Are you kidding me?’ moment of the game. 

Still riding high off of an upset win over Stevenson less than two weeks ago, the Scouts looked poised to play spoiler to another elite North Suburban Conference team with state title aspirations.

All the Scouts needed to do was close out for the last eight minutes, and they could have a court storming on their hands.

But as countless teams have learned this season, you don’t have to give Mundelein much breathing room to remain within striking distance.

Even with the momentum on the side of the Scouts, it became clear that seven points wouldn’t be enough to outlast their offensive firepower.

In the end, it wasn’t.

A manic fourth quarter that saw Mundelein score 25 points and tie the game in its final seconds pushed the contest to overtime, where the Scouts were promptly shut out, ultimately falling to the Mustangs 56-48.

Lake Forest had done everything right up until the last two minutes of the game. 6-foot-8 big man Scottie Ebube — who punished the Scouts in their first meeting this season — was a non-factor on Saturday night, scoring just nine points thanks to a superb combined defensive effort led by Will Thomas and Stephen Young.

Stephen Young (33) guards Scottie Ebube (44) in the first half of Saturday night’s game. (Photo Credit: Lisa Mitchell)

The Mustangs couldn’t buy a three either, missing all 12 of their shots from beyond the arc up until the game’s closing minutes.

LaScala’s game plan had worked. They had learned from their mistakes in December and implemented an effective game plan that put them in a great position to upset a State contender. However, it quickly unraveled in the final minutes of regulation.

Mundelein forward Jack Bikus kicked off an eight-point swing by intercepting a pass on the perimeter and taking it to the hoop for an and-one. Two possessions later, star guard Conor Enright drained a kick out three-pointer at the top of the key to cut the Scouts’ lead to four.

Nowik deceptively cut to the basket on the next Scouts’ possession, pushing the lead to six points with a quick layup. But Mundelein quickly responded with a three, making it 48-45 with 30 seconds left to play.

Chaos in the Comp Gym: Asa Thomas battles Trey Baker and Scottie Ebube for a loose ball under the Mustangs’ basket as Cade Nowik, Jack Malloy, and Stephen Young look on. (Photo Credit: Lisa Mitchell)

With such a dramatic momentum swing, it seemed like the Mustangs couldn’t be stopped. 

A frantic Mundelein possession clearly didn’t go according to plan for head coach Matt Badgley, but in the end, he got the result he wanted. Guard Trey Baker was left open for three and drained it. After an ugly display of perimeter shooting, suddenly, the Mustangs couldn’t miss. 

Baker roared and flexed at a rowdy Mundelein crowd that, for the first time, saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

After battling back from a 12-point deficit, the Mustangs had tied the game at 48.

The Scouts had just a handful of seconds to make a shot and prevent Mundelein’s momentum from spilling over into overtime. Jack Malloy, driving across the baseline, found Young open, unguarded beyond the perimeter. In the absence of anything else, Young had to settle for a shot that only Damian Lillard would feel comfortable taking. The shot clanged off the back iron. The buzzer sounded, and he fell to a crouch at half court.

Predictably, Mundelein dominated the four-minute overtime period, scoring eight points exclusively on free throws. Turnovers, missed shots, and uninspired possessions doomed the Scouts, who were shut out in the extra period.

Mundelein scored the last 14 points of the game, all part of a tide-changing 22-2 run that carried the Mustangs to the final buzzer.

While the Scouts (14-10, 5-4) were never expected to battle the Mustangs as closely as they did, the result was still crushing. They were robbed of a major confidence booster before they are set to begin a tough stretch of conference play.

Nowik led the Scouts with 18 points, two assists, and eight rebounds. Will Thomas anchored the defense with four blocks.

Asa Thomas chipped in ten points, but was stymied by Enright, who forced six turnovers and held him to just 2-of-8 shooting. Enright poured in 24 points to lead the Mustangs’ comeback.

With their top four scorers all being juniors, it’s scary to think about how good Mundelein might look next year. But for now, they’ve got their sights set on a conference championship and a deep playoff run.

The Scouts continue to surprise top-tier competition, and that bodes well for their future this season. They just can’t leave any more of their games up to chance — or overtime.

They’re back at it tonight with a 7:00 p.m. home game against Warren Township.