BATAVIA – The win was nice, but St. Charles North boys basketball coach Tom Poulin might remember Friday’s game against Batavia most for the 45 minutes that weren’t spent playing basketball.
A gym-clearing fire alarm during the first quarter set a quirky tone for Friday’s Upstate Eight Conference River game, eventually won by North, 48-42.
“[Assistant coach] Rob Prentiss always tells me, you coach long enough, you’ll see everything,” Poulin said. “It’s the first I’ve seen, and he’s been coaching 30 years, and he hasn’t seen that. We’ll remember it.
“I think that might be the most memorable part of the game.”
After a sluggish first 5 minutes-plus of play, the night took a bizarre turn when the fire alarm sounded in the gymnasium. Officials tried to swiftly troubleshoot but, after a couple minutes of confusion, the crowd was asked to head to the exits.
Given the frigid temperature, fans were eventually directed to wait for the “All clear” sign inside the school’s fieldhouse.
That’s where the North Stars waited out most of the delay.
“We were right by a door. We weren’t in imminent danger,” Poulin said. “I thought it was more dangerous to bring the guys outside in 5-below or whatever it is in their shorts and a jacket. The fieldhouse was pretty warm, so we hung out there after going outside initially.”
Batavia coach Jim Nazos recalled one similar incident during his coaching career years ago when he was at Wheaton North.
“I still have no idea what happened [on Friday],” Batavia coach Jim Nazos said after the game. “I noticed the hallway smelled [like smoke] here so there was something that actually happened.”
Scoring was at a premium for both teams but the North Stars (13-7, 7-3 UEC River) don’t mind winning ugly at this stage of the season.
“We’re trying to get ourselves into that tournament mindset of win no matter how you have to do it,” Poulin said. “No matter if it’s ugly, pretty. So after the game we just said we’ll watch the film and critique ourselves but right now it’s just about getting the ‘W.’ I don’t care if it’s 48-42 or 98-92. We want to win.”
Batavia led, 3-2, with 2:37 to play in the first quarter at the time of the delay, which lasted about 45 minutes. The first half ended in fittingly strange fashion as North’s Jake Ludwig was fouled on a fast break with no time left on the clock. Ludwig hit both free throws to give North a 19-18 edge.
The teams were tied at 32 entering the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs failed to score in the fourth until a Ryan Olson baseline jumper cut North’s lead to 36-34 with 3:15 to play.
North’s Alec Goetz then canned a corner 3-pointer for a 39-34 North lead. Batavia’s Micah Coffey answered with a 3-pointer to make it 39-37 at the 2:51 mark, but Jack Callaghan (nine points, 14 rebounds) drove for a basket to make it a two-possession game, and the Bulldogs (6-14, 1-9 UEC River) were in dire shape the rest of the way.
Ludwig scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half. Goetz added 12 for North, which was officially eliminated from conference contention Friday with Larkin’s win over Elgin.
Batavia hadn’t played in two weeks after inclement weather canceled a trip to Rock Island this weekend, and the Bulldogs seemingly used their extended practice time to sharpen their man-to-man defense.
“It was hard for us to get started during that game,” Ludwig said. “They were playing good gap defense and they were closing out on our shooters well.”
Bulldogs sophomore guard Canaan Coffey scored 11 of his team-high 14 points in the third quarter, including a four-point play late in the quarter to give the Bulldogs a 32-29 lead.
Senior Micah Coffey added 11 points and Olson added nine points off the bench for the Bulldogs.
Batavia’s annual Night of Hoops is tonight, with the Bulldogs to play the nightcap of the quadrupleheader against St. Joseph.