NILES - No one can say the Niles McKinley Red Dragons didn't have their chances in the final minute.
They just couldn't find someone to close the deal in a non-conference game against the Brookfield Warriors.
The Dragons scored six quick points in the final minute of the fourth quarter to cut the Warriors' lead to one point, but a driving layup by Ray Russ of the Dragons in the final seconds was off target and the Warriors went home with a 59-58 win Friday night.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Niles’ Nick Sanchez (5)?is defended by Brookfield’s Jeremy Quinlan, left, and Collin Harkulich during their game on Friday night.
"We were fortunate to have them miss some shots, and we competed to get that rebound (by Jeremy Quinlan)," Brookfield coach Bill Kovach said.
The Warriors are 3-0. The loss drops the Dragons' record to 3-2.
Niles had to play catch-up from the moment Brookfield took a 28-26 lead on a three-point play by Colin Harkulich late in the second quarter. The Dragons were never able to get the upper hand the rest of the way, despite making 10 3-point shots (five by Russ).
The Warriors were able to hold off every run by the Dragons with accurate passing and the inside play of Quinlan and Harkulich. Quinlan had a game-high 26 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. Harkulich scored 10 points, including six in the fourth quarter.
"He (Quinlan) is our most versatile player," Kovach said. "He's inside-outside. He's a smart player. When he makes a mistake, he let me know toward the end. We wanted a good shot. We didn't even have to take a shot."
Kovach was referring to a shot Quinlan put up with less than 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. He was fouled on the play but missed both free throws.
Russ, who scored 20 points, went the length of the court. He dribbled, penetrated to the right of the lane, and put up the ill-fated shot.
"He's our senior captain and the lone player that played a lot last year," Dragons coach Ron Price said. "You're going to put the ball in his hands and see what happens. Nice move. Unfortunately, it didn't go in."
The Dragons made their late run on the strength of six unanswered points by James Tate. His first fielder in the run cut the Brookfield lead to 59-54. Tate then made a short jumper to make it 59-56. Quinlan was called for a technical foul after the shot, and Tate made both free throws.
Niles didn't score after getting possession out of bounds following the technical. A scramble for the loose ball resulted in a jump ball that went to the Warriors.
"That's what high school basketball is all about," Price said. "It was a great game. We're proud of our kids. They got up. We came back and hit some big shots to make it come down to the end like that. That's a real good (Brookfield) team."
The Warriors took a 15-10 lead into the second period and led 29-26 at halftime. Brookfield had a 46-41 lead through three quarters.
Chris Parry and Tate each had 12 points for the Dragons, who made just 8-of-20 free throws.
The Warriors are just starting to round into basketball shape. Four of their starters played on the football team that advanced to the third round of the Division IV playoffs.
"Having these guys come off a great football season and then going right into basketball has been an adjustment for us," Kovach said. "We're still a little behind."
Niles hosts Girard Tuesday. Brookfield is at Hubbard the same night.