ELGIN – St. Charles East boys basketball lost its starting point guard in the first quarter, built a 20-point lead anyway, then nearly lost that lead in the second half before holding on for a 69-63 victory over Elgin on Friday night.
The win lifted the Saints (14-11, 8-4) into a three-way tie for second place in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division with Geneva and St. Charles North.
Senior Dom Adduci sprained his left ankle crashing into Elgin’s Ryan Sitter with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
“I was driving the lane in transition and I jumped up and it was kind of a freak thing,” Adduci said. “I landed on one of their players’ ankles or his foot and my ankle just rolled. Then I kind of hopped and I landed it on again and I just went down. It was just unfortunate.”
After consulting with a trainer, both Adduci and East coach Pat Woods thought the injury was minor and wouldn’t keep Adduci out of action for long.
“Low-grade ankle sprain is what the trainer said,” Woods noted. “Obviously, it’ll be a day-to-day thing. No reason to put him back in the game tonight although I’m sure he wanted to tape it up and that.”
The Saints led by five when Adduci left the game and used an 11-0 run late in the first quarter and into the second quarter to open up a 27-10 lead.
A long 3-pointer by sophomore James McQuillan extended the margin to 20 just before halftime. McQuillan scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half.
“McQuillan is a great player,” Woods said. “He’s only a sophomore and he has such poise. He went through some growing pains last year as a freshman. We talked about him asserting his will a little bit more. He was 5-for-8 from the field, 3-for-3 from 3. He’s such a smooth, quiet player. When all’s said and done, he’ll end up being a dominant player.
The Saints didn’t appear to miss a beat without Adduci, taking a 39-22 lead into the break, but McQuillan said building that cushion was not as easy as it looked.
“Obviously Dom’s a very good offensive player,” McQuillan said. “We just knew we needed to step it up as a team, move the ball around, and get really good shots for everyone – just make the extra pass and try to get the defense to work a little.”
The Maroons cut into the lead into the second half behind the strong play of senior guard Isaiah Butler, who scored 20 points.
They eventually pulled to within 1 with 2:35 left in the game when Butler came up with a steal and fed the ball to Desmond Sanders for a short bank. But Cole Gentry and McQuillan hit four straight free throws to help East close out the contest.
“They just brought great energy,” McQuillan said of Elgin’s second-half surge. “Some of our shots didn’t fall. We made some bad turnovers. … I think we closed the game on a 9-2 run or something, so I think we can take away the good part about how we closed the game.”
Jake Asquini (15), Mick Vyzral (12) and A.J. Washington (10) joined McQuillan as double-figure scorers for the Saints.