Waukegan Police lieutenant hits game-winning shot in Juarez Cup
By Bryan bonato Special to The News-Sun March 20, 2013 8:58PM
Waukegan Saturday, 3/16/13 Waukegan police sgt. Keith Zupec drives past firefighter/paramedic, Brian Jacobi during the third quarter of Saturday's 12th annual Juarez Cup basketball game, played at Waukegan High School. (Zupec hit a three-pointer wit
Police 64, FireFIGHTERS 63
Keith Zupec (team-high 16 points) rattled in a three-pointer from the wing with five seconds remaining for the Police, and following a timeout with three seconds to play, the Fire Department’s Ed Johnson (14 points, 4 threes) missed a three at the buzzer at the other end.
Zupec’s three gave the Police its only lead of the night.
The Fire Department built eighth-point points in the second and third quarters, but both times was unable to pull away as it kept putting the Police on the foul line where the cops were 25-of -39 for the night, compared to just 5-of-19 for the Fire Department.
Drew Regan of the Police scored on a put-back with 26.9 seconds to play to make the score 63-61, and the Fire Department missed two free throws at the other end and Regan rebounded. Coming out of a timeout with 11.3 seconds to play, Zupec buried the Police’s only three-pointer of the game for the win.
The Police have now won four of the last five years, with the Fire Department winning last year 52-39. The Police lead the series 7-4-1.
Four 12-minute, running-clock quarters.
Police scorers — Keith Zupec 16, Brian Falotico 15, Frank C ancino 14, Drew Regan 6, Andy White 4, Lance Johnson 3, Mike Sliozis 2, Joe Jurek 2, Enrique Cardenas 2. FG shooting: 19-for-57.
Firefighters scorers —Damien McClinton 17, Ed Johnson 14, George Bridges 11, Tom Clawsen 7, Jay Shaffer 8, Brian Jacobi 2, John Valentine 2, Ryan Koncki 2. FG shooting: 24-79.
Updated: May 20, 2013 2:22AM
If someone in the stands had their cellphone operating on video mode, the end would have made it onto YouTube.
And truth be told, the rest of the Juarez Cup event on Saturday night at Waukegan High School’s Dog Pound gym was pretty great, as well.
But nothing could match the end of the benefit basketball game between Waukegan Police Lodge 5 and Waukegan Fire Department Local 473, in which Keith Zopec of the Cops rattle dhome a three-pointer from the wing with five seconds to play to give his team its only lead of the night and a 64-63 bragging-rights victory over the Firefighters.
This was the 12th annual Juarez Cup game and the Cops lead the series 7-4-1. Not only did this game have the best finish, but it was the biggest event yet in the series.
The game is played as a fund-raiser for the Waukegan High School Booster Club and the Waukegan-based Special Recreation Association of Northern Lake County. It’s named after Miguel Juarez, a Waukegan police chief and member of the school board in Waukegan who passed away in 2003.
George Bridges, a lieutenant with the Fire Department, was a lead organizer of the event. Before the game tipped off, he said this to a big crowd of around 400: “We do this to celebrate the tradition of Miguel Juarez and all the things he inspired us to do. He not only was our police chief, but he cared about our kids. He was a board member and a coach. He knew how important our future was.”
After the game, Bridges, a Waukegan native and 17-year member of the Fire Department, talked about the evening.
“It was a great event. It definitely exceeded last year, which is what we want to do. We want to keep building it and making it bigger every year,” he said.
Until the game-deciding three-pointer, the biggest highlight of the night came at halftime.
For a dollar, a fan could shoot a free throw in an attempt to win a T-shirt. Or, for a dollar, a fan could try a halfcourt shot, with the first to make it winning $100. Many launched from 45 feet away, but nobody found the bottom of the net.
““The interactive halftime was awesome. I wanted something to inspire some fan activity, and they tell me it turned out great,” said Bridges. “ We raised a lot of money during halftime with so many people wanting to try.”
As for the game’s hero, Zupec is a sergeant and has been with the Waukegan Police Department for 16 years. He graduated from Waukegan East High so the Dog Pound is his “home” gym.
“It wasn’t the play that was drawn up (during the timeout) he said. “It just happened to be. The clock was running out and I pulled up and shot it.
“I took the last two years off (from the Juarez Cup), so I came out of ‘retirement’ to play this game,” he added. “Now, I’m probably going back into retirement. After you win it like that, it’s time to go away.”
As for the event, Zupec was thrilled with the turnout.
“It’s a wonderful event. Obviously ,we’re here to raise money and have a good time. As you can see, it gets a little competitive, but it’s all in good fun. These are our Fire brothers, and we care for them a lot.”