BATAVIA – It’s usually not how you start but how you finish. But for the Batavia boys basketball team, finishing hasn’t been the problem.
During the Bulldogs’ recent six-game skid, rough first quarters put the Bulldogs in big holes that they were unable to overcome.
Batavia flipped the switch during the first quarter of Friday night’s 53-36, Upstate Eight Conference River win against Streamwood.
Needing a jolt, Batavia turned to junior guard Micah Coffey, who scored 13 of his game and career high 26 points in the first quarter as the Bulldogs picked up their first conference win.
“It’s taken us a while to take over the game at the start,” Coffey said. “We were able to come out and control things defensively. We were about to take them out of what they wanted to do and we were able to get out running.”
Coffey was especially deadly from three-point range, knocking home six on the night as the junior helped Batavia race to a 28-15 halftime lead.
Despite registering only three field goals in the third quarter, Batavia maintained a double-digit advantage, even after a Vince Williams basket pulled Streamwood to within 35-23.
The Bulldogs (3-7, 1-4 UEC River) started the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run during which Coffey canned back-to-back three-pointers that forced a Streamwood timeout as Batavia led 41-23.
As Coffey had a big night, the rest of his Batavia teammates clamped down defensively. Guards Jack Pollack and Mike Rueffer scored eight and six points respectively, but it was their play defensively that had Bulldogs coach Jim Nazos excited.
“We did a pretty good job of on-the-ball defending and being disciplined, I thought,” Nazos said. “You’ve gotta be in position and strong on the ball. Streamwood has some good players that can make some plays but I thought we did a nice job of limiting them to one shot. They are a team that if they get going, they can create a lot of havoc.”
With Coffey’s hot hand, the Bulldogs led 17-6 after one period. Streamwood made the first basket of the game for its only lead of the contest before Coffey knocked down the first of his six threes.
The junior multisport athlete added a pair of free throws and a layup near the end of the quarter as Batavia finished the first period on a 9-0 run.
“It was basically guys getting me open shots. I’ve got the green light and coach says that if you have the shot, go ahead and take it,” Coffey said. “That’s what I’m going to do. If I get hot, I know I’ve got guys who will look for me.”
Batavia’s bench was also impressive, getting a six-point effort from senior center Taylor Brandt along with strong post play from Mike Carlson, who had to guard 6-foot-10 Streamwood big-man Zack Harris.
“Taylor did a really nice job coming off the bench tonight. He’s practiced well and it doesn’t surprise us that he did the things he did when he came in,” Nazos said. “Really happy with him and the whole bench.”
Nazos thinks the Bulldogs might be on the verge of breaking through in the win column more often after enduring the losing streak.
“Six of our seven losses, we’ve either had it tied or had the lead late in the game,” Nazos said. “I think we’re right on the verge, we’re just pushing through.”
Joel Lighthouse led Streamwood with 10 points.