ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles North boys basketball team felt disregarded coming into this week’s St. Charles East Thanksgiving Tournament.
After a second straight win to start the tournament, 55-50 against North Lawndale on Wednesday, the North Stars might be starting to change some minds.
“We didn’t think anyone respected us coming into this tournament,” North coach Tom Poulin said.
The North Stars opened up the game on a tear. Their defense forced the Phoenix into turnovers on their first two possessions of the game, and the long-range shooting of junior guard Alec Goetz carried the offense.
Goetz scored 14 of the team’s 22 points for the quarter, including hitting three three-pointers.
“We’ve been expecting this from Alec from day one,” Poulin said. “We saw a lot of it in practice last year, when he was a sophomore, and we’ve been waiting for him to make the next jump. He’s proving us right here early on.”
The North Stars (2-0) added to their lead in the second quarter, going on a 14-8 run to hold a 36-18 halftime lead. North got to the free-throw line early and often to build the lead.
The second half would produce a different story, as North Lawndale chipped away at the lead with numerous second-chance points.
Forward Keith Mack would take over for the Phoenix at the end of the third, scoring nine consecutive points to cut the lead to 46-33.
Down nine midway through the fourth, North Lawndale went on an 8-0 run to bring the game down to 51-48. However, Goetz and senior Quinten Payne drained four consecutive free throws to put the game out of reach.
Goetz finished with 20 points, while Payne added 16, including 10 of 12 from the free-throw line, for the North Stars.
“When they went on a run, I just pulled the guys together and said ‘Guys, relax,’ ” Payne said. “We were throwing passes we didn’t need to make.”
The North Stars will take on Downers Grove South on Friday with the chance to go to the championship game with a victory. North’s best finish in this event was a consolation championship in 2009.
Although his team may be searching for respect, Poulin earned some respect of his own, with the victory being the 100th for his career.
In the tournament nightcap, St. Charles East defeated Schaumburg, 48-46. East junior Dom Adduci broke the 46-all tie with a floater in the lane with 7 seconds left for his first basket of the night.
Kendall Stephens scored 22 points for the Saints (2-0) and blocked a last-second shot for the Saxons.