After missing five of the last six games due to injury, Ridgewood Anthony Mroz made sure to have an impact on Saturday’s game against Schaumburg.
The senior finished with 24 points, including six fourth-quarter free throws, as the Rebels (7-9 overall) held on to a 60-53 victory.
“I was lucky enough to get some fast breaks and some open looks from the three-point line,” said Mroz. “And the free throws [in the fourth quarter], I was able to knock them down.”
It was a game of runs for both teams through three quarters before each had a scoring outburst in the fourth.
After falling behind 14-4 at the end of the first, Schaumburg (6-9 overall) had two 9-0 runs in the second period, the final one capped by a buzzer-beating three by junior guard Charlie Quilico to tie the game at 23 heading into halftime.
In the third quarter Ridgewood was able to knock down a pair of threes to help counter eight-straight points in the post by Schaumburg—four each from senior forward Joshua Rahn and junior guard Brendan Parker—to take a 34-32 into the fourth.
“They are so well coached, we knew that he (Schaumburg coach Matt Walsh) would make an adjustment and go inside,” said Ridgewood coach Chris Mroz. “Luckily we were able to battle back.”
The teams started the fourth slowly enough, but back-to-back technical fouls on Walsh and Parker with 4:39 left opened the scoring floodgates for both teams. Over the remainder of the game they combined to score 40 points.
Schaumburg was led down the stretch by freshman forward Kameron Powell, who scored 10 of his 11 points in the period.
But Ridgewood was able to hold on in the end, knocking down 14-of-18 free throws in the quarter, with freshman Zach Rzewnicki making all five of his attempts.
“I’ll be honest, we’ve been shooting free throws terribly; we were 9-of-25 last game,” said Chris Mroz. “We made a lot of free throws in the fourth quarter tonight, and it was an all-around great team win.”
For Ridgewood, senior guard Brandon Kasaam finished with 17 points and Rzewnicki had 14, as they combined with Mroz to score 55 of the Rebels’ 63 points.
Powell led the scoring for Schaumburg, and Rahn added 10 points.
“Probably everyone has counted us out, but now we’re healthy and now is the time to get hot” said coach Mroz. “For being a small school, I think we compete pretty hard, so hopefully we’ll be there at the end.”
By Jakub Rudnik