STREAMWOOD – St. Charles East shrugged off a sluggish start defensively Friday night and went on to rout Streamwood, 84-54, in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play.
The Saints trailed, 31-28, midway through the second quarter before Cole Gentry, who finished with 17 points, took rebounds coast-to-coast on consecutive possessions to put East in front to stay.
“We started off pretty slow,” East sophomore James McQuillan said. “We didn’t really have the energy at the beginning. It took us a little while to get the energy, but when we did everybody started to contribute and it ended up being a nice team win.”
McQuillan contributed right from the opening tip, scoring on a putback and from beyond the arc for the Saints’ first five points of the night. He finished with 18 points, hitting on all seven shots he took from the floor.
“James played great,” East coach Pat Woods said. “He was perfect from the field, only missed two free throws, but a solid game overall. … He got a lot better defensively. We’re trying to get him to use his hands more and I thought he did a good job of that.”
Jake Asquini (17 points) also had a hot hand for the Saints (12-8, 6-2 UEC River), connecting on five 3-pointers. He drained a 3 from the left side to start East on a 9-0 run to close the first half, which ended with the Saints up, 44-34.
“Asquini hit a couple big 3s and Cole brought the energy again,” McQuillan said. “Everybody kind of just followed Cole’s lead and we just stepped up our game and it paid off on the scoreboard.”
East scored the first six points of the second half to break the game open and continued to expand the lead throughout the final two quarters. Junior guard Zach Manibog, starting in place of the injured Dom Adduci, scored nine of his 11 points in the third quarter. His 3-pointer from the right corner extended the Saints’ lead, 61-38, midway through the period.
After getting to the basket with relative ease against East’s man-to-man defense in the first half, the Sabres (2-21, 0-8) were held to eight points in the third quarter.
“Late in the game, even though the game was decided already, we were really focused on holding them under 55 – 21 points in the second half,” Woods said. “That was our goal, so we got a lot better.”
Woods said Adduci, who missed his second straight game with a strained groin, is expected to be back at practice Monday as the Saints prepare for a big league game Thursday at home against Larkin. The Royals (16-3, 7-0) lead the River Division race.
“Our offense, honestly, hasn’t been much of an issue at all this year,” Woods noted. “You know, 84 points, we had 90 last week [in a victory over St. Charles North]. We’ve just got to get better defensively if we want to win those big games.”
Cole Seger led Streamwood with 19 points, but the Saints held him to five after halftime.