ST. CHARLES – If the St. Charles North boys basketball team would have played the entire game like it did the final six minutes, Thursday’s outcome might have been much different.
St. Charles North fell to West Chicago, 89-82, Thursday, but that seven-point deficit doesn’t indicate how out-of-hand the game was throughout. West Chicago started with a bang and led by double digits much of the contest. It wasn’t until the North Stars (16-9) went down by nearly 20 in the early stages of the fourth quarter that they buckled down on defense, forced turnovers and scored a flurry of transition baskets to come close.
But the hole was just too deep to climb out of.
“Just really disappointed in our effort for three quarters and ability to apply a game plan and our ability to listen in a timeout or a dead-ball situation and go out and apply and execute,” North coach Tom Poulin said after his team dropped its second straight to close the regular season. “We’re a lot better than that, we’ve shown it. But right now, at this point, tonight, I was disappointed in our spirit, our intensity, our focus. You can’t be doing that at the end of February.”
The main Wildcat taking it to the North Stars early – and during the whole game, for that matter – was senior John Konchar, who scored a game-high 45 points, more than half the West Chicago total. A second-quarter 3-pointer made him West Chicago’s all-time leading scorer.
Poulin simply called Konchar the best player he’s coached against this season.
“He’s the best player we’ve seen this year,” Poulin said. “He’s a couple steps ahead of everybody. He’s making plays right now that set something up two passes later or a couple dribbles later. I don’t think we were really locked in on what our game plan was to stop him. … What makes him difficult is he can do it all. He can shoot the 3, he can handle the basketball, he can make his teammates better, he can go right, he can go left. He’s a smart basketball player, he’s long, and he plays really hard.
“He plays hard. He just played harder than us tonight. And on top of it, he’s the best basketball player we’ve seen this year.”
Konchar was especially prolific, but he wasn’t the only player on the floor with a big night. The North Star duo of senior guard Alec Goetz and junior guard Jake Ludwig combined for 57 points, with Goetz leading the way with 31. The pair factored huge in the late comeback attempt, both on the scoreboard and in the passing lanes. Junior forward Jack Callaghan chipped in 16 points.
But in the end, even those big outputs couldn’t bring the North Stars back from the damage that had been done early in the game. It’s something they’ll have to correct in a hurry before North hosts a regional next week.
“We’ve got to be able to apply a game plan,” Poulin said. “And we’ve got to commit ourselves to the defensive end, defense and rebounding, otherwise it’s one and done.”
South Elgin 71, Batavia 59: At Batavia, the host Bulldogs were in catch-up mode most of the night and dropped their regular season finale to UEC crossover opponent South Elgin.
Forward Tucker Knox scored 18 points to lead turnover-prone Batavia (7-17), while South Elgin's Darius Wells scored 31 points, including some deep 3-pointers that were relatively well defended, according to Batavia coach Jim Nazos.
The Bulldogs will turn their attention to Monday's IHSA Class 4A Plainfield East Regional first-round matchup with Downers Grove South.
• Vinnie Duber contributed to this report.