CLIFTON – Outside of the inner circle of Fieldcrest and their fans, not too many people gave the Knights much a chance against a team out of the Chicago Public League. After fall, Corliss entered Central Sectional winners of 18 of their last 19 games. That lone blemish came to city powerhouse Simeon.
The Falcons got more than they bargained for from the Knights, but finally put them away by a final of 60-49 on Feb. 28. Corliss (23-5) was threatening to make the game a laugher, as they led 30-16 on a bucket from Gabriel Bossi.
Fieldcrest (19-11) closed the first half on an 8-0 spurt to pull within 30-24 at halftime on one of five three-pointers from Ryan Naas.
“Huge,” responded Knights’ coach Matt Winkler of the flurry. “It was almost like the Chicago Christian game. We were about dead in the water, but we got hot. We went into the locker room and we thought we had a chance to win.”
Another Naas trey got Fieldcrest within 32-29 early in the third quarter before the Falcons embarked on a 10-0 run to bump the advantage to 42-29 on an offensive rebound stickback from 6-foot-10 Iowa State signee George Conditt.
“We cut it to three and they made (10) straight to get it to (13). That was the key,” Winkler pointed out.
Conditt, who signed a national letter of intent with the Cyclones during the fall period in early November, has posted three triple-doubles on the season and was not too far off from a fourth. He finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and blocked seven shots. Conditt’s first field goal came with four minutes and 59 seconds remaining in the third period.
“We talked about winning the battle, which was shutting down Conditt, but losing the war, meaning the game,” explained Winkler. “They’re defense dictated a lot of tempo and that threw us off a bit.”
Bossi, who tossed in 22 points in the regional final versus Chicago Harlan, led all scorers with 23. Dhashon Dyson was also in double figures for the Falcons with 15. Corliss was up over 50 percent shooting for most of the game, but faltered late from the floor and ended at 47 percent (17 of 36).
Only three Knights netted hoops, as Naas led with 18 points, as he sank six. Hayden Carls also converted six and had 17 points, while Cameron Grandy made five and ended up with 12 points. Fieldcrest went 10 of 30 behind the arc, but just seven of 25 on two-point attempts with some of that due to the shot-blocking presence of Conditt, who sat smack dub in the middle of the Corliss’ 2-3 zone.
“We just did not get a lot of good looks. A lot of that had to do with their defense,” said Winkler, whose team saw a six-game win streak came to a halt.
The Knights were able to make the Falcons expend more energy than they envisioned.
“They never quit,” said Winkler of his squad. “It’s a testament to those young men in the locker room. They’re attitude will help them in the long run. I’m so proud of how our guys battled.”
Corliss made seven from three-point range, four of which came in the opening quarter.
Notes: Conditt’s father, also named George, was a defensive back for the Iowa State football team in the early 1990s. The younger Conditt, who was 6-3, grew two inches and then five more between his sophomore and junior season, spent his freshman year at Crete-Monee before he transferred. Despite leading by as many as 12 in the second quarter, Corliss lost 58-55 to Winnebago in Tuesday's DeKalb Supersectional at the Convocation Center on the Northern Illinois University campus. Derek May, who was held scoreless, sits with 917 career points. He should reach 1,000 during the Colmone Classic hosted by Spring Valley Hall in mid-December.