By Matt Le Cren
Proviso East couldnt have scripted a more exciting ending to its Senior Night.The No. 2 Pirates captured the West Suburban Conference Gold Division championship Friday by edging defending champion Downers South 65-62 in Maywood.Guard Paris Lee scored the clinching layup with one second left in front of a host of alumni that included Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.It feels real good, Lee said. Last year they beat us, so this year we had to come redeem ourselves.Lee scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, including seven of the Pirates last eight. His two free throws with 18.3 seconds left put Proviso East (23-0, 12-0) up 63-59.Jamall Millison then drilled a three-pointer from 25 feet with :09 remaining for Downers South (20-5, 10-2), which was out of timeouts. But before the Mustangs could foul, Proviso East forward Sterling Brown found Lee with a long pass and Lee beat the defense down the floor for his layup.I did a jab to the inbounder and I broke and Sterling threw a good baseball pass to me and I finished the layup, Lee said. Its an honor to score important points. I feel if I go play Division I basketball Im going to have a lot of games like this so this just prepares me.Proviso East hasnt been known for playing smart basketball in recent years, but Browns heads-up play was the difference.I looked for Lee, said Brown, whose offensive rebound of a missed free throw led to Lees last free throws. I see we was up by one but I still wanted to get the ball out because close to the basket they all had pressure defense.I saw Paris leak out so I just threw it. I had faith that he was going to get it and make the layup and I just threw it for him and he did it.The 6-4 Brown often gets overlooked by the media spotlight that gets trained on Lee and fellow guards Keith Carter and Paris Burns, but his play kept the Pirates in the game in the first half. Brown tallied nine of his 13 points in the opening half, including an inside hoop that pulled the hosts within 30-25 at intermission after the Mustangs had used a 9-0 run to take a 30-21 lead.They can have all the press, Brown said. I just want to win. Thats all I come out here to do is just win.The Pirates have done nothing but win this season and werent concerned about trailing the Mustangs, who had won seven straight.Coach Donnie Boyce didnt let us panic, Lee said. He told us to keep our heads and we live for games like that.Downers Grove South did a great job, Boyce said. I felt in the first half we gambled a little too much and we left ourselves vulnerable in the middle and they did a great job of attacking us.It was the first game all year where we had our backs against the wall the majority of the game and I liked the way our guys responded. They never panicked. They kept composure and part of that goes to the experience of Keith Carter.Carter had 15 points, including a pair of foul shots that put the Pirates ahead to stay, 53-51, with 3:19 left, and added five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Burns tallied 10 points and Treshaun Carroll had nine points and 11 rebounds for Proviso East, which hosts Oak Park on Wednesday in the inaugural WSC championship game.Theyre a really tough team, said senior guard Jerron Wilbut, who led Downers South with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Theyve got so many weapons on offense. I think that whats good about them is the really just dont give up. They play hard all the way down the stretch. They dont care who you are.Millison finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Danny Spinuzza chipped in 13 points and Kevin Honn seven points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs, who could meet Proviso East again in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central Supersectional.We played hard. We just came up on the short end, Wilbut said. The emotions were flying in the locker room but we can only just look forward.