Whenever Lindblom guard Mike Charles would miss a free throw Tuesday night, the whole gym could hear him utter, “Oh, damn!”
The fortunate thing for the Eagles is that it happened just twice in their 55-46 Class 3A St. Laurence Regional semifinal win over Evergreen Park.
Lindblom will face No. 1 seed Bogan in the regional final at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Bogan beat us in the city playoffs, and on Friday we’re gonna try to do what we do well and gonna try to impose our will on them,” Lindblom coach Zack Linderman said.
Charles, who scored a game-high 18 points, sank six crucial free throws in the fourth quarter and went 8-of-10 from the line overall.
“When we first start at practice, we shoot free throws for 30 to 45 minutes every day,” Charles said. “Making free throws is apart of the game.”
Darien Boyd came out firing in the first half for Lindblom (12-13), hitting four of his first five shots on his way to 10 points in the half, which included two from distance in the first quarter.
Despite committing 13 turnovers in the first half, Evergreen Park (13-14) was able to stay with the Eagles, trailing 25-22 at intermission.
The Eagles adjusted to a fullcourt press in the third quarter, frequently challenging Mustangs shots and creating havoc on the perimeter, which made Evergreen change its strategy offensively.
“Even though we forced a lot of turnovers in the first half, I thought we didn’t defend like we normally do,” Linderman said. “We raised our level in the second half and started attacking the basket more.”
With 6:46 left in the fourth, the Mustangs’ Tobi Oladejo, who scored a team-high 14 points, hit a three to cut the lead to three, but Charles answered with a three on the next possession.
“With two of our slashers not available (Tuesday), we had to be a spot-up shooting team,” Mustangs coach Pat Flannigan said. “We didn’t execute inbounds play very well and guys weren’t in the right spot, but I’m proud of our seniors and our team because we gave everyone a good game.”