ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North’s Quinten Payne and St. Charles East’s Dom Adduci are two of the area’s finest guards, and both displayed their considerable talents Saturday night in an Upstate Eight Conference River Division boys basketball game.
With Payne pouring in 22 points and Adduci countering with 20, the difference in the 62-49 victory by the North Stars on their home court may have been that Payne got a little more help from his friends.
“I thought Quinten played within our system with his teammates very, very well,” North coach Tom Poulin said. “Nothing really looked forced, so I thought he did a real good job of just playing the game within the game.”
Payne started out hot from the outside, hitting on five of his first seven shots from the field, helping the North Stars (13-8, 6-4 UEC River) jump out to a quick nine-point first quarter lead.
“I thought we did a great job as a team tonight of defending, and when I missed a couple shots in a row, my team picked me up on defense, so we just kept building [the lead],” Payne said. “Even though we missed a shot, we still ran back and got a stop, so I give credit to my team for doing a great job on that.”
That tough man-to-man defense kept Adduci quiet early, but he connected on a pair of 3 pointers toward the end of the quarter to cut the deficit to three. Kyle Swanson stemmed that rally by the Saints (13-8, 6-3) by drilling a 25-foot shoot at the buzzer to put North up 18-12 heading into the second quarter. That started North on a 10-0 run, capped by Payne’s pull-up jumper in the circle.
Poulin thought North’s trapping full-court press contributed to his team‘s fast start, even though it didn’t cause many turnovers – East had eight in the game, three less than North.
“This past week we put in a full-court press,” Poulin said. “There was something lacking in our intensity, so we said one way to guarantee some intensity or energy early in the game is to press.”
The North Stars also scored the last seven points of the half, including a basket inside by Chris Preocanin three seconds before the break that Payne assisted on with a great pass off a fake jump shot.
Payne gave North its largest lead of the night at 42-25 midway through the third quarter by hitting a trey from the left wing, but Adduci then began a furious East comeback by hitting a floater in the lane. That sparked a 17-3 run by the Saints.
“Dom was great for us,” East coach Pat Woods said. “He shot real well tonight, which is good. I just thought he needed some help offensively finishing at the end. Early on, I thought we had a couple people that had some opportunities that just didn’t capitalize. Cole [Gentry] played a better second half, but we need more from some other people.”
Gentry, East’s outstanding sophomore guard, scored eight of his 10 points in the second half. He was the only Saint other than Adduci to reach double figures.
Adduci’s 3 point play on a drive-and-scoop shot with 6:51 left in the game pulled East to within 45-42, but that was as close as the Saints would come as Payne answered 16 seconds later with a reverse layup off a nice pass by Swanson.
Adduci got East back within four with three minutes to play, but Payne again responded quickly on the other end, beating a double team in the low post and getting fouled in the process. He converted the ensuing free throw to put North up 51-44.
At Poulin’s direction, Payne said he attacked the basket more late in the second half rather than relying on his perimeter shooting.
“I missed a couple long jumpers in the second half, so then … we just tried to get me going to the rim and get a couple fouls,” Payne said. “I thought that was a great call by coach trying to get me to the rim because that’s really my game, trying to get guys off the dribble or get guys in close-out.”
The North Stars made nine straight free throws down the stretch to seal the victory, including six by Swanson, who was brilliant for the second straight night, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.