The Tinley Park and Oak Forest girls basketball rivalry took center stage on Tuesday afternoon, except that the stage was neither in Tinley or Oak Forest.
Instead, the Titans and Bengals fought at Allstate Arena, home to the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, as part of the Sky’s Court of Dreams event. The two battled it out in the afternoon before the Sky held off Seattle 78-69 Tuesday night in a game broadcast on ESPN2.
Despite the game being played in the summer and on a neutral floor, Oak Forest and Tinley Park played like all the marbles were on the line and battled to the end. Powered by 20 points from forward Emily Naegele, Oak Forest survived a fourth quarter rally by Tinley to win 48-47.
“You saw how close the game was, it’s a great rivalry now,” Oak Forest coach Steve Schanz said. “It was fun to play them here and represent District 228.”
About 50 fans from Tinley and Oak Forest traveled to Rosemont to watch the teams slug it out in the arena next to O’Hare. The game was very hard fought.
“When it’s Tinley, we go for the win,” Oak Forest guard Katie Swanson said. “We took this as a real-season game.”
Tinley Park felt the same way. “We always want to play them,” said Titans guard Diamond Beatty, who finished with 10 points. “And knowing that we had the chance to play them here made it special.”
With the game tied 21-21 at halftime, Oak Forest took control in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, leading by 13 a couple minutes into the fourth quarter. Tinley Park, however, battled back and tied the game at 46 when Beatty made a three-pointer with a foul shot added on.
Oak Forest responded with two free throws from Naegele. Tinley Park pulled within one on a free throw of its own and had a chance to win with 2.8 seconds to play and the ball along its baseline. However, a baseline shot attempt rimmed out.
Tinley Park has played about 30 games this summer, including a trip to Notre Dame. The team is focused on building chemistry for next year. “Especially over the summer, we were able to work together as a team,” said Caitlin Suddth, who led the Titans with 15 points. “When the season starts, we’ll be able to jell together even better.”
Titans coach Jason Becker said his girls have made strides this summer. “They’re really working hard toward a common goal, and that’s to win,” he said. “So, hopefully, when we see Oak Forest in the winter, we can give them another good game.”
Tuesday’s game against Tinley Park marked the last summer game for Oak Forest. “It was a big one to end the summer with,” Swanson said.
Schanz already is looking forward to the winter season. “I can’t wait until October 31,” he said.