William Chrisman senior Connor McAhan could sense the comeback coming — even before Oak Park had cut Chrisman’s 30-point lead to eight in a span of 7 minutes.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
The hair-on-fire mantra the Chrisman Bears live by under coach John Vickers was noticeably absent after halftime.
McAhan brought it back just in time.
A senior wing, McAhan scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bears hold off an energized Oak Park rally for a 85-65 win Friday night at William Chrisman.
“We got big-headed, and that can’t happen,” McAhan said. “We knew we had to come back to doing what we do — which is playing like we’re behind by 20 instead of ahead by 20.
“That game was crazy, but it was fun.”
Well, the second half was crazy. The first half was a dud.
The Bears, 5-8, appeared poised to turn the conference matchup into a laugher with a 22-5 run to open the game. Oak Park, 3-8, committed six turnovers in the first quarter, and Chrisman responded with buckets on five of the six ensuing possessions.
All five Chrisman starters posted at least six points in an opening half that ended with the Bears up 48-23.
With the game no longer in doubt at that point, or so it seemed, the topic of conversation became the Bears’ chances to hit triple digits.
Instead, Oak Park made a ballgame out of it. The Northmen held Chrisman to only eight points in the third quarter and exploded for 25, more than their entire first-half output, trimming a 30-point lead early in the second half to eight points with a minute still left to play in the third quarter.
“We took the foot off the pedal,” Vickers said. “We stopped doing all those good things we did in the first half. There’s no way Oak Park is going to roll over. They played like they had something to fight for, and we didn’t.”
That third-quarter fight, however, left Oak Park out of breath for the fourth quarter.
Justin Frey scored 14 of his team-high 18 points after halftime, but Oak Park trailed by double-digits for much of the fourth quarter, and three players fouled out, leaving the team with a thin bench. The Northmen turned the ball over seven times over the final 7 minutes against Chrisman’s frantic style of play.
Chris Horn scored a game-high 19 for Chrisman, and Alex Ball added 15 points, including 12 before halftime.
Oak Park senior Dalton Lundy finished with 15 points. He made seven of eight shots from the free-throw line.
“I just thought (the difference) was we had more effort and character in the second half,” Oak Park coach Ryan Nichols said. “I thought they showed a lot of fight and a lot of will. But the bottom line is we buried ourselves too deep in the first quarter.”