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St. Charles East boys basketball hits high gear, routs North

St. Charles East's Dom Adduci drives with authority during Saturday's 90-55 win 
against visiting St. Charles North.
St. Charles East's Dom Adduci drives with authority during Saturday's 90-55 win against visiting St. Charles North.

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North boys basketball coach Tom Poulin can't recall an opponent ever raining 16 3-point makes on his team, nor can he recollect 90 points being hung on his North Stars in regulation.

But Poulin has a theory on why that dubious trivia surfaced Saturday, after St. Charles East embarrassed the visiting North Stars, 90-55.

North showed up to play a game. East laced 'em up with much more in mind.

"We came and played St. Charles East," Poulin said. "And they came to kick our butts. 

"They came to send a message and blow us out and get some payback and things like that. They came to win and compete with everything they have, and we showed up to play the game."

East entered the season boasting a deep reservoir of perimeter snipers. On Saturday, all that promise was delivered upon in astounding fashion as East canned eight 3-pointers in each half, rolling off the fingertips of six different shooters.

North (11-6, 5-2 UEC River) entered play winners of four straight games, having held its last two opponents – Bartlett and Streamwood – to a combined 63 points.

Dealing with East (11-7, 5-2 UEC River) at its best was a completely different animal.

"You never know who to guard because if we're all knocking down shots, you can't guard everyone," East reserve guard Zach Manibog said.

Saints coach Pat Woods perhaps stated the obvious in calling East's performance one of the best he's seen in his three years on the job.

"That's what people don't realize, we have so many kids that can shoot the ball," Woods said. "And the way I play, I give them the green light. They had their confidence going, and shots were falling."

East senior guard Dom Adduci, coming off a 40-point bonanza last time out against Elgin, hadn't cooled off much, scoring 18 points in the first half, including a 25-plus foot strike to give East a 20-5 lead late in the first quarter.

It was a walk-on-water night for the Saints in just about every way imaginable, including buzzer-beating 3-pointers by Manibog for a 50-22 halftime lead and from Cole Gentry for a staggering 68-33 lead to close the third quarter.

Gentry didn't feel himself when the teams met the first time at North, a 68-58 North Stars victory in early December. At the time, Gentry was still bothered by back trouble that dogged him during the offseason, but on Saturday, he was the difference-maker the Saints expect, splitting double teams with regularity and accounting for nine of East's 23 assists to go with eight points.

"The key is to attack their wings and make them make a decision, and tonight everybody made the right decisions kicking it out, and we were just finding everybody and hitting shots," Gentry said.

In addition to Gentry's resurgence, East enjoyed a morale boost with the return of 6-foot-7 senior David Mason, who made his season debut off the bench after undergoing foot survey in November. 

As much progress as the Saints made from Round 1 to Round 2 against the North Stars, Adduci recognized Saturday's performance offers no guarantees if the teams were to meet for a third time in regionals, a realistic prospect.

"Basketball definitely has its ups and downs," Adduci said. "Some nights you'll be on, you'll feel like you're on top of the world, and some nights you'll just have a bad game. We recognize that. We fight through the highs and the lows. Credit to our team for battling through those tough losses we had early on and getting to where we are now."

Adduci scored 23 points before sitting for the entire fourth quarter. Senior forward AJ Washington scored all 10 of his points in the first half while junior guard Jake Clodi notched all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers. East was 16 for 29 from 3-point territory on the night. Jake Asquini made 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.

North's heralded guard duo of Alec Goetz (17 points) and Jake Ludwig (12) paced the North Stars, but Poulin said his team was "stuck in mud" at both ends of the floor.

"We allowed the ball to get to the high post and the lane, which just collapses you, consistently, and we haven't done that all year," Poulin said. 

Now East and North each have two conference losses. Both teams have one game remaining with Larkin, the UEC River's lone unbeaten team.

Gentry said treating the huge crowd on Saturday to such a sizzling performance could pay dividends in the coming weeks for the Saints.

"It's big just to keep generating the support so now when we play Larkin coming up or Geneva coming up, we still have that many people here, because we really feed off the crowd," Gentry said.

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