ELGIN – The St. Charles North boys basketball team held off a furious third quarter surge from Elgin to spoil the Maroons' Senior Night on Saturday and capture a 64-53 win in Upstate Eight Conference River play.
St. Charles North (14-8, 7-4 UEC River) entered the third quarter with a 13-point lead, but after an 18-6 run by the Maroons (11-13, 2-9), highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by junior Isaiah Butler and a deep 3 from senior Arie Williams, the North Stars' lead shrank to one.
The North Stars answered with a 10-3 run of their own to end the third quarter with an eight-point lead. Fueling the North Stars in the third and throughout the game was their solid shooting from the free throw line.
St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said his team’s physical play allowed it to get to the free throw line (21 of 38 on the night) and the attempts at the line put them in position to win the game.
“We always talk about getting out to a good start and winning the middle quarters and that is going to put you in a position where you need to be strong down the stretch at the foul line late,” Poulin said.
The Maroons, meanwhile, struggled from the line, shooting 8 of 20 for the game. Elgin coach Mike Sitter said his team’s inconsistent play prevented the Maroons from taking control of the game.
“We’ve played 20 almost 30 games, we should be a lot more consistent at this point then we are right now,” Sitter said. “We start three seniors so it starts with them. … They need to provide leadership. Some days they do, some days they don’t.”
Defensively, the North Stars used a full-court press to force the Maroons into several turnovers on poor passes and traveling calls. The team also held the talented Williams to 10 points for the game and one point at halftime. St. Charles North senior Quinten Payne said the team worked in practice to prepare to stop Williams.
“I thought we did a great job as a team trying to get [the ball] out of his hands and make other guys make plays,” Payne said.
Payne lead the North Stars with 14 points, while Kyle Swanson added 10. Butler led Elgin with 18 points.
Despite the lopsided 31-point win against the Maroons in their first meeting, Poulin said he expected to get a fierce effort form the Maroons.
“We knew we they weren’t going to fold over and go away, they had an awful lot of motivation with it being senior night … so we knew we were going to get their best punch and knew the second half was going to be a dogfight,” Poulin said.
The win makes three straight wins for the North Stars. Poulin said his team is headed in the right direction as the playoffs approach.
“That’s been our goal, every win or loss is a learning experience, and if we can get to the point where we’re peaking at the end of the month, then we’re doing our job,” Poulin said.