WHEATON – St. Francis boys basketball coach Bob Ward was honored before the start of Friday night’s game with Aurora Central Catholic for registering his 300th career coaching victory last week.
If the Spartans continue to play the way they did in a 65-46 victory over the Chargers, he’ll have a good start to 400 before this season is through.
“We had great energy to start the game,” Ward said. “I thought we played as well we have all year long in the first quarter.”
St. Francis (11-8, 8-3 Suburban Christian Blue) displayed good intensity with its man-to-man defense in the game’s opening moments and quickly jumped out to a 13-4 lead. The Spartans stretched the lead to 14 late in the quarter when 6-4 senior Kilian Brown (13 points) scored on a nice spin move in the low post.
“Then we did not defend a screen and they got a 3 at the end of the first quarter,” Ward said. “Then the energy switched to them.”
Sean Harreld hit that 3-pointer for the Chargers (3-17, 1-7) to cut the St. Francis lead to 22-11.
ACC clawed its way back into the contest in the second quarter, slowing down the Spartan offense by trapping out of a 2-3 zone.
The Chargers eventually pulled to within one twice late in the quarter, getting some quality play from 6-foot freshman Brett Czerak off the bench. Czerak scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
The Spartans led, 35-30, at intermission, then took advantage of multiple ACC turnovers at the start of the second half to blow the game open. The Chargers turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the third quarter and four of their first five.
“The turnovers killed us,” ACC coach Nate Drye said. “We thought that was kind of a key to the game. We thought they would struggle to score if we stayed away from giving them baskets. We gave them baskets early in the first quarter and got behind and then we stopped turning it over and we turned them over and got back in it. Then we came out in the second half and just completely laid an egg, and that was the ballgame.”
Zach Prociuk and Kevin Blank, in particular, made the Chargers pay for their miscues.
Blank scored eight of his 14 points early in the third quarter, sandwiched around eight straight points by Prociuk, who also finished with 14 points.
“We said we needed more energy at the halftime break,” said Blank, a 6-foot senior. “We just wanted to keep working their zone, move their zone around. Then once we got the ball to our guy in the center, the zone kind of collapsed, and guys were open.”
Blank’s 3-pointer from the left corner made the score 51-32 midway through the third quarter, and the Chargers never threatened after that.
“I thought we not only had energy [in the second half], I thought we were really workmanlike,” Ward said. “We didn’t turn it over, we got good shots, and we defended well.”
St. Francis finished with 15 turnovers, compared with 22 for ACC.
Seven of those Charger turnovers came in the third quarter.
Jason Sullivan scored 10 points for the Spartans, who host Glenbard South tonight.