Not only had St. Charles East senior Tyler Windau not started any games for East before Friday night’s game against St. Charles North, but the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder has barely played most of the season.
But East coach Pat Woods, looking for more production in the paint, inserted Windau in the starting lineup for the rivalry showdown, and Windau took advantage.
A crucial put-back by Windau gave the Saints a 48-43 lead with 4:10 left in the fourth quarter of the Saints’ eventual 56-55, overtime victory. Windau also supplied the first basket of the night for the slow-starting Saints in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.
The Saints have a deep team, and Windau has been stuck playing behind big guys David Mason and Dan Wilkerson, most of the season. Other times, East has gone with smaller lineups that do not include a traditional post player.
“We’re talking about kids trying to separate themselves in practice and when they get an opportunity [in games],” Woods said. “It’s tough when you have a lot of guys real close to each other kind of lumped up.
“We’re kind of going with the motto of whoever is next up in line, step up and produce, and Ty produced big-time for us [Friday]. That’s just going to make us more dangerous down the road when we get everyone clicking on all cylinders.”
The solid performance turned in by Windau figures to make competition for playing time all the fiercer in upcoming practices.
“Ty brings great energy,” Woods said. “He’s a physical presence.”
Geneva’s 61-56 win at Larkin on Saturday tightened the Upstate Eight Conference River race considerably, but minutes after the game Vikings coach Phil Ralston was already fretting about the teams’ rematch, scheduled for Feb. 8 in Geneva.
While mostly enthused about the Vikings’ performance, Ralston pointed out Geneva’s inability to contain slashing Larkin guard Kendale McCullum (game-high 24 points).
“Now, obviously, the big question is if we play them another time, how are we going to stop McCullum from slicing and dicing us,” Ralston said. “We had some guys who looked like Swiss cheese out there.
“We’ve got to do a little better [defending] penetration, but I thought by and large, especially for three and a half quarters, almost four quarters, we did a great job of trying to keep them out on the perimeter and not giving them anything on the inside.”
McCullum played a larger role in Larkin’s offense Saturday with Royals standout Quentin Ruff unavailable for the first half because of a violation of team rules.
Larkin, Geneva and St. Charles East each have two Upstate Eight Conference River losses, though the Royals (6-2 UEC River) are a half-game ahead of the Vikings (5-2 UEC River) and a game ahead of the Saints (4-2 UEC River). Geneva’s win snapped an 11-game Royals winning streak.
“We’ve scouted Larkin five games, and seeing them right up there next to the floor rather than 20 rows up, you have an even greater appreciation of what they’re able to do, because man alive, do they have speed,” Ralston said.
Pushing the pace
Aurora Central Catholic senior Phil Schuetz scored 27 points in Sunday’s wild, 69-68, triple overtime win against Chicago Vocational in a Martin Luther King Shootout game at Whitney Young.
Schuetz has been on a roll lately, but he attributes much of his success to Anthony Andujar, the Chargers’ creative, shifty point guard.
“He’s crazy,” Schuetz said. “I don’t understand how he sees people sometimes, and he’s so quick. He can just gets to basket whenever he wants, pretty much.”
– Jay Schwab, firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE GROOVE
St. Charles East, Jr., G
What he did: Adduci scored a game-high 27 points, including the decisive 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in overtime, as East nipped St. Charles North, 56-55, in overtime, on Friday night.
Makur Puou, Mooseheart, Jr., F
What he did: The 6-foot-10 Puou scored a career high 35 points to go with 17 rebounds in last Tuesday’s Red Ramblers victory against Luther North.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK ...
Wheaton Academy can shoot the snot out of the ball.
The Warriors drained a whopping 16 3-pointers Saturday in their 23-point win against Aurora Christian, led by four trifectas apiece from Collin Roy and Gordon Behr.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD ...
Just how hot Batavia is.
The Bulldogs, winners of seven games in their past eight outings, but coming off a nine-day layoff, will play host to Upstate Eight Conference River-leading Larkin on Thursday as the Royals aim to bounce back from Saturday’s loss to Geneva.
COACH SLY SEZ ...
Credit both St. Charles coaches for keeping it classy after Friday night’s emotional, overtime East win over North.
Both coaches made strong statements of support saluting the game played by North senior Quinten Payne, who naturally was upset after missing two free throws in the last second of OT.
It was a rough situation, but that’s part of the game.
Payne is still a warrior for the North Stars, and kudos to everyone involved for not losing sight of that.
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