BATAVIA – After suffering three straight losses at the hands of Larkin, Geneva and Naperville North, the St. Charles East boys basketball team needed a win to get back on track before regionals.
"We were a little angry and we had a chip on our shoulders after those last games,” St. Charles East senior guard Dom Adduci said.
The Saints responded in Saturday's Upstate Eight Conference River Division road game at Batavia, playing fast, forcing 17 turnovers and earning a 59-52 win.
Adduci led the Saints with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“I think the team played really well today. We came out with a lot of energy,” Adduci said. “This was playoff-style basketball tonight. Every possession was challenged. And [that] is exactly what we are looking for in games this late in the year, and we responded really well.”
East (13-11, 7-4 UEC River) forced most of its turnovers with its press. Saints coach Pat Woods was pleased with his team’s intensity and how they forced turnovers and quick shots.
“[Quick shots] is what we were hoping for,” Woods said. “That is what it is designed to do – speed them up. It is a little bit of a gamble in a sense, but I don’t think we would do that if we didn’t know the gamble would pay off.”
The game was close early, but three straight 3s from Adduci, Cole Gentry and Mick Vyzral pushed the Saints lead out to 11 points midway through the second quarter. Batavia closed the gap to two by halftime after three straight buckets from Tucker Knox capped 9-0 run.
East come out firing in the second half, opening the third quarter on a 10-0 run, finished off by a three-point play by Adduci.
“We talked about at half that the first four minutes would be critical as far as setting the tone,” Woods said. “This is the kind of team that if you give them momentum, especially in the second half, they are going to build confidence from that.”
Batavia (6-16, 1-10) chipped away and eventually closed the gap to three points in fourth quarter. After a Saints timeout, A.J. Washington finished a bucket and a foul for East and the lead was restored to six points.
“That was a designed play to get A.J. on a cut for a layup or a dunk. And he got an and-1, so that was what we were looking for,” Woods said.
The Bulldogs never closed the gap to more than four again. Although his team shot 19 of 42 (45.2 percent) from the field, Batavia coach Jim Nazos said his team missed some close ones.
“That is going to happen in games. We are going to get good looks and we are going to miss some and that is part of it,” Nazos said. “We are an improved team and that means something on some level. But, we want the next step and we want to finish.”
Knox led Batavia with 17 points and five rebounds. Micah Coffey chipped in with 15 points.
For East, Gentry scored 13 points with six rebounds and three assists. Washington and Jake Asquini each finished with seven points.
“I think the team played really well today,” Adduci said. “We came out with a lot of intensity. That was our big thing – intensity.”