ELGIN – The Batavia and Rockford East boys basketball teams each controlled one half of the fifth-place game at the Elgin Boys Holiday Basketball Tournament on Saturday.
Batavia thoroughly dominated the second 16 minutes of the contest and turned a six-point deficit at halftime into a 69-51 win.
The E-Rabs led 21-17 after the first quarter and held a 33-27 lead at halftime. Rockford East (4-8) pushed the ball into the paint to their post players for baskets while frustrating the Bulldogs' efforts to get the ball inside.
“That was our best half basketball that we came out with,” Rockford East coach Roy Sackmaster said. “We stressed really using our strength in the post and our guards really bought in. As long as we did what we are supposed to be doing, we were OK.”
Forward Tony Evans (6-foot-5), who led all Rockford East scorers with 17 points, connected for five inside baskets in the first quarter. Teammate Patrick Brown (6-7) scored all of his 10 points in the first half from the paint.
Batavia managed only 10 buckets in the first half, with four being 3-pointers. The Bulldogs (5-8) were also outrebounded, 18-9, in the first two quarters.
In the second half, Batavia had the edge in rebounding 11-6 and was able to get the ball inside for baskets.
“Offensively, we did a real good job of screening and making the extra pass,” Nazos said “I thought it was a really unselfish team effort both defensively and offensively.”
“They were real strong in the post so it was tough,” added Bulldogs forward Chasen Peez. “I was getting frustrated early but coach said keep going around them, defend over them not under them. Eventually, I got it.”
The Bulldogs went on a 14-0 run to open the third quarter.
Senior guard Micah Coffey (15 points) started the scoring with a put-back basket. Danny Pieczynski (11 points) followed with a trey to pull the Bulldogs within one, 32-33. The junior then poked the ball away and connected on a layup to give his team their first lead of the night, 34-33.
“I made the 3 and then I got the steal which was a big spark to start the half,” Pieczynski said.
Batavia led, 45-43, at the start of the fourth quarter. Rockford East tied the game at 49 on a Moise Kashona jumper three minutes into the period
Peez, who was the top Batavia scorer with 17, then put the Bulldogs ahead for good 51-49, connecting on two free throws.
Rockford East fouls aided Batavia late in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs scored 10 of their last 18 points from the free throw line.
“It’s a great win against a great team. It’s a good boost for us to start the second half of the year,” Nazos said.