HILLSIDE – Playing a quality opponent while dealing with injuries to two of its best players was too much for the St. Charles East boys basketball team to shoulder Saturday.
As a result, the Saints were eliminated from Proviso West Holiday Tournament play with a 49-46 loss to St. Joseph in a consolation game despite a consistent attack.
“We proved we can play with anybody,” Saints coach Pat Woods said. “St. Joe’s has numerous Division I players, incredible players. We were in position to win, so it’s disappointing, but encouraging at the same time.
“We have played St. Joe’s twice, Larkin, Stevenson, Schaumburg. We haven’t had many cupcakes. Every one of our losses we were in a position to win. When we clean up some things at the end we’ll be in good shape.”
The Saints (9-4) began the game with Purdue-bound senior Kendall Stephens in street clothes after Stephens reinjured a preseason shoulder injury in Thursday's tournament game.
In Saturday's second quarter, guard Dom Adduci fell hard to the floor while being fouled, injuring his right shoulder and right eye.
Adduci, who hit the game-winning shot from half court at the buzzer Friday night, did not return in the second quarter, but was back on the floor to start the second half.
“I drove to the hoop and the guy came right down on my shoulder, in the joint,” Adduci said while nursing a bump on his eye after the game. “It popped out completely, and at the same time I hit my head on the court.
“The shoulder hurt a lot more than the eye. They popped [the shoulder] back in on the bench. It was a sharp pain when they did that, but then it starting getting better. At that point, I knew I would play in the second half. But I wanted to make sure my eye did not swell so I would be able to see.
Adduci buried a long three-pointer early in the third quarter, but returned to the bench a few minutes later because he had blood on his shorts. That trip to the bench was short.
“When I got blood on my uniform, I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me, what else is going to happen?’” Adduci said.
St. Joseph (9-5) led 21-11 after a quarter, and the Chargers were ahead 23-13 early in the second quarter when Adduci was injured. Cole Gentry replaced Adduci and hit a pair of free throws, but by the end of the quarter the Chargers led 30-19.
However, the Saints refused to wilt, cutting the lead to 42-35 at the end of the third quarter as Adduci returned from the bench to hit a late shot.
In the fourth quarter, the Saints kept chipping away, cutting the lead to 43-38 on a basket by David Mason and 47-44 on a follow by Ben Skoog with 1:20 left.
The teams then traded misses before the Chargers turned it over with 35 seconds to go.
East could not get a shot off, and Woods called his final timeout with 13 seconds to play.
On the ensuring inbounds play, the Saints turned it over and St. Joseph followed with two free throws to ice the game.
“It was real frustrating to draw up a play in the timeout and turn it over before anything can really take shape,” Adduci said. “You don’t know what would have happened had we run the play, but it would have been nice to find out. It was really deflating.”
“We talk about being in a position to win at the end of the game and we were right there,” Woods said. “It was frustrating. But we had two sophomores and a freshman out there at the time. That is part of the learning curve.
“I didn’t want to burn that timeout, but I felt if I didn’t burn it we wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity (to tie the game).
“When I think it’s going to be a close game, I usually sit on my timeouts a little bit knowing we’re going to need them at the end. But I had to call one in the first half when we were out of synch.”
Adduci led all scorers with 18 points. Mason had eight along with seven rebounds and Gentry added five points, seven rebounds and five assists.
A.J. Paddy led St. Joseph with 14 points and 12 rebounds, Paul Turner added 13 points and Jordan Ash chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds.
East struggled from the floor, hitting only 16 of its 50 shots (32 percent) while St. Joseph was 18 of 38 (47 percent) from the field.
“Adduci had 18, but I thought we made him work,” Chargers coach Gene Pingatore said. “The other thing that was a factor is they had to work so hard to come back. I think that affected their three-point shooting.”
East beat St. Joseph, 71-53, in the Saints' annual Thanksgiving tournament.
Stephens said there was no change from how the shoulder felt Friday, when he also missed the game. He has been treating the injury with ice and has not had to visit a doctor in relation to this most recent injury.