WOODSTOCK – With 3:11 remaining on the clock Tuesday and Johnsburg facing an 18-point deficit, coach Mike Toussaint subbed out his starters for a fresh wave off the bench.
Off the court walked Skyhawks seniors Mason Sobiesk and Brody Frazier, among others.
After Burlington Central finished off a 77-56 win over Johnsburg in the IHSA Class 3A Woodstock North Sectional semifinals, Toussaint couldn’t help but choke up a little bit talking about Johnsburg’s senior class.
“My seniors are awesome,” Toussaint said. “It never gets easy. They’re just classy guys. Of all the years I’ve had teams, 25 years, it’s about as tight-knit a group as I’ve seen, and it’s because of these seniors. ... They made it a family. They’re just a great group of kids.”
The group brought Johnsburg (19-13) its first regional title in six seasons. The 19 wins marked the most since the 2009-10 season. And the Skyhawks put up as good a fight as they have all year through the first half against Burlington Central.
After the Rockets won two regular season matchups, it looked at halftime as if it finally might be Johnsburg’s chance. The Skyhawks led by two at the break.
Frazier was all over the glass, finishing with a team-high nine rebounds.
Sobiesk knocked down three huge 3-pointers early in the game to help erase an early seven-point Burlington Central lead. He scored 11 points in his final game in Johnsburg blue and gold.
The defense looked good, and the Skyhawks weren’t allowing the Rockets many second-chance points. Then Burlington Central held Johnsburg to 17 points in the second half and ran away with the game, advancing to Friday’s sectional final.
The Skyhawks go back to the drawing board. They lose eight seniors from the varsity roster.
“The group of guys I got to play with, from the beginning of the year we all got as close as we did,” Frazier said. “It’s a great group of kids. I’m going to miss all the seniors and the whole team.”
Frazier wasn’t always the leading scorer, or the leading rebounder, but he came up huge with 18 points in Friday’s regional championship win over Richmond-Burton.
The Skyhawks finished a solid final month of the season even without senior Jackson LaMarche, a 6-foot-4 guard who was averaging 12.7 points a game before going out with an injury in mid-January. Senior Dylan Paprocki provided some solid minutes off the bench all year long, scoring four points Tuesday.
Junior Zach Toussaint led Johnsburg with 23 points. He should be back next year, but it doesn’t make it any easier to see the season come to an end.
“Everyone just got along,” Zach Toussaint said. “Everyone loved each other. There were no problems, no fights, just a great group of guys.”
Sobiesk said he is going to miss the post-game group texts with his teammates, where they discussed each game and what they could do differently.
“I’ve had the most fun I’ve ever had my whole life with these guys, especially the seniors,” Sobiesk said. “There’s not going to be a day that goes by from now on that I’m not going to think about going to practice, or joking with them at school, or playing my heart out with them.”