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Jacob Bereza wins Lincoln-Way West conference

senior forward Jacob Bereza He allowed himself a small smile and a small fist pump toward the student section of Lincoln-Way West.

Just a moment to savor the history after leading the Warriors to their first conference title in program history.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Bereza said just minutes after the end of the match. “I’m going to change my clothes, go out, and maybe I’ll come to my senses when I get in the car.”

Bereza scored 18 points, including nine in the second quarter, on Tuesday night to lead host Lincoln-Way West to a 61-54 SouthWest Suburban Red victory over Andrew in New Lenox and clinch the co-championship with Stagg.

senior forward Eli Bach He scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Warriors (16-14, 5-3). Wyatt Carlson 11 added.

Azan Berchos Andrew (17-12, 4-4) with 24 points and Grant Sakenis There were 13 of them.

Bereza began playing competitive basketball in eighth grade and became a valuable starter for the Warriors.

His minutes were reduced in the previous two games due to injury, but he was ready to play Tuesday night.

“He can really fill the bucket when he gets going,” the Lincoln-Way West coach said. Tanner Mitchell He mentioned Bereza. “He’s a huge help when he’s on.

“He injured his ankle last week and is starting to feel better now. He had the weekend off to rest and came out really fresh.”

Lincoln-Way West players celebrate their first conference championship in program history after the SouthWest Suburban Red defeated Andrew on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, in New Lenox. (Jeff Vorva/Daily Southtown)

Bach was pleased to see his teammate regaining form.

“Man, this kid brings a ton of heart and a ton of courage,” Bach said of Bereza. “When he’s on, he’s on, and we love him for it.”

From Jan. 16 to Jan. 26, the Warriors lost six straight games and weren’t particularly thoughtful about making school history. This made them appreciate this achievement even more.

“This is really special,” Mitchell said. “It’s always special when you encounter something for the first time in school history.

“Boy, if you had told me two or three weeks ago that we were going to win this thing in the last week of the season, I don’t know if I would have believed you.”

The conference really got more intense on Friday night. Stagg entered the game with a 4-2 record, followed by Andrew at 4-3 and Lincoln-Way West and Bradley-Bourbonnais at 3-3.

When the dust cleared, four of the five teams had 4-3 records, setting up Tuesday’s scenario and ensuring the two winning teams would share the conference title. Stagg beat Bradley 50-45 on Tuesday to claim his piece of the pie.

“It’s pretty cool that we were able to achieve this with this team,” Bach said. “For a while we had a very low score and lost a few games in a row, but then we started to pick up.”

“It was great to make the night this junior and senior year,” Bereza said. “This was a little more special than a normal game.”

Andrew’s Athan Berchos (3) prepares to compete against Lincoln-Way West in the SouthWest Suburban Red game on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 in New Lenox. (Jeff Vorva/Daily Southtown)

Bereza, a 6-foot-10 two-sport athlete, will soon make a decision about her future.

Basketball? Football? None?

He said he would make this move at the end of the season.

“I don’t know whether to take the academic route or the athletic route,” Bereza said. “Academically, I’m looking at a few engineering schools like Purdue or Louisville. We’ll see.”

He confirmed that he will miss this team when the season ends.

“These are pretty much my only friends, so it’s more than just basketball to me,” Bereza said. said. “It’s also about playing sports and representing your school.

“We had a lot of ups and downs, but the highs were really high. I’m really glad it all happened in my senior year.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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