Adams’ 3-point shooters turn tables on Oak Park
Oak Park – Shooters shoot and when Joey Ziniti missed consecutive 3-point attempts midway through the fourth quarter he did what he’s told to do. Shoot.
Ziniti made three of his career-high seven 3-pointers in the final three minutes to lead Rochester Adams to a 70-64 upset victory over Oak Park, ranked No. 10 in Class A, in an Oakland Activities Association crossover at Oak Park on Friday.
Oak Park (4-1) led 35-25 at halftime but when its best player, 6-7 junior Kelvon Fuller, picked up his fourth foul with six minutes left in the third quarter the game turned. Adam Slating converted a 3-point play as a result of Fuller’s foul and Adams trailed 38-33. Michael Girdler’s 3-pointer gave Adams (4-2) its first lead, 44-42, with three minute left in the quarter.
Fuller returned with 6:50 remaining and his return gave the Knights a lift. His put-back with 6:23 left gave Oak Park a 57-49 lead and after Ziniti’s fourth 3-pointer Fuller answered with a basket with 5:08 remaining to give his team a 59-54 lead.
The teams traded 3-pointers before Ziniti made another 3-pointer to pull the Highlanders to within 62-60 with three minutes to play.
Fuller fouled out with 1:35 left and Ziniti made two 3-pointer during s 30-second stretch to give Adams a 67-64 led with 27 seconds left.
Spencer Littleson iced the game with three free throws in the final 14.3 seconds.
“I kept shooting,” Ziniti said. “I didn’t think about those misses. My teammates got me the ball. And I really wanted the ball. Last year I struggled a bit with my shot from the perimeter. I worked all summer on it.”
Adams isn’t a tall team. And even its tallest player, 6-7 David Rinke, isn’t strong with the ball near the basket so the Highlanders rely on setting tight screens to free their shooters. They didn’t execute their offense well in the first half and coach John Hall told them so.
“We got more physical,” he said. “We weren’t afraid to go inside but they’re so physical that it made it tough. Even if we passed it inside then kicked it back that’s good. Hey, they’re 16-year-olds. But sometimes they do listen to their coach.
“We went with the hot hand. More importantly, the player went to the hot player. Spencer got us going in the third quarter (Littleson had 11 points in the third) and it helped that their big guy fouled out.”
Adams made 13 3-pointers, nine in the second half. Ziniti said he and his teammates worked harder in the second half to set screens and to be quicker once they came off of them.
“We didn’t get into our offense in the first half,” he said. “We had to get into a flow.”
Ziniti had 23 points and Littleson had 18, including three 3-pointers, for Adams.
For Oak Park Justin Knight had 18 points, Robert Zanders had 14 points, Trevon Gardner added 13 and Fuller had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Fatigue might have been a factor as well. Two of Oak Park’s eight players fouled out and it committed seven turnovers in the fourth. Oak Park will add seven players, all transfers, when the second semester begins on Jan. 19.