BARTLETT – The St. Charles North boys basketball team was poised for a big road win against Bartlett during Upstate Eight Conference crossover action Tuesday, leading by six points at the half.
But the North Stars lost their way offensively in a defensive struggle in the second half, scoring only three third-quarter points and nine in the fourth en route to a 46-38 loss.
“Shot selection was poor [in the second half],” said North coach Tom Poulin. “We didn’t get many open looks. They defended well. We didn’t execute really well.
“We had to fight through some physical screens. I am not sure we were able to set those same types of screens. But that wasn’t the difference. Bartlett flat-out beat us. They were the better team tonight.”
North (9-6) led 13-10 after a quarter thanks to six points from Kyle Swanson on two 3s and increased the margin to six, 26-20, at the half as Quinten Payne scored 12 during the first 16 minutes.
“We didn’t play very good defense in the first half,” said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. “I thought we let Quinten get some easy shots. We didn’t rotate very well. Swanson got some shots on us, too.
“We talked at halftime about being more aggressive on their ball picks, getting hands up. Phenomenal defense by Lance (Whitaker) on Quinten in the second half. He had two points.”
Bartlett (13-4) came out of halftime a different team, running off the quarter’s first eight points to take a 28-26 lead before Swanson buried a 3 halfway through the period to give the North Stars the lead back, 29-28.
At the end of the quarter, the Hawks led, 33-29.
In the fourth, Whitaker hit two free throws that were answered by North’s Alec Goetz. Bartlett’s Billy Kramer followed with a bucket, but again North stayed tough with a 3 by Goetz to cut the lead to 37-34 with two 2:35 to play.
However, after that it was all Bartlett and Whitaker from the line, as he nailed a bucket and 8-of-9 free throws from the line to give the Hawks a comfortable lead in the last minute.
“They shortened the second half,” Poulin said. “We played at their pace. I thought we figured out how to get teams to play our style in Pontiac. We did that to some pretty good teams, so obviously we can do it. We have to be able to force teams to play our style of basketball consistently.”
Payne led the North Stars with 14 points and Swanson added nine.
“If you can beat Peoria Manuel, you can go on the road and beat Bartlett,” Poulin said.
Whitaker led Bartlett with 19 points.