Boys Basketball: Hard work powers Lemont past Addison TrailAddison Trail's Dan McLoughlin (12) attempts to block Lemont's Paulius
Otruskevicius (33) at Wednesday night's game between Lemont and Addison Trail. | Paul James Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 14, 2011 8:12PM
Not long after Lemont coach Rick Runaas chastised Paul Otruskevicius for one-handing a loose ball that went out of bounds, he redeemed himself by rebounding his missed free throw and turning it into a four-point play with a layup.
That effort gave Lemont a 31-19 halftime lead and the Indians went on to earn a 63-50 victory Wednesday night over Addison Trail for the championship of the Knights/Warriors Winter Classic at Lincoln-Way Central.
“If I turn the ball over I expect coach to yell,’’ Otruskevicius said. “You just have to keep your head up and keep playing.’’
“That’s one of the lessons basketball teaches you in life,’’ Runaas said. “When you get yelled at, how do you respond? Do you go sit down and pout, curse the coach under your breath? Or you can pick your head up and do better the next time. That’s what Paul did.’’
Otruskevicius scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as Lemont (7-1) was a perfect 4-0 in the event that included victories over Lincoln-Way Central, Lincoln-Way West and Evergreen Park.
“This is a really big win for the school,’’ Otruskevicius said.
“He had a great tournament, he had a great game again tonight,’’ Runaas said of the 6-foot-3 Otruskevicius, who averaged eight points a game last season as a junior. “He was playing a little out of position last year because we were so small.’’
Junior guard Juozas Balciunas scored 17 points while Jack Shereck (10 points) and Joe Hehir (8 points) made contributions off the bench.
“We’re getting good efforts from a number of people,’’ Runaas said. “We were pretty balanced again tonight.’’
“Everybody knows their role this year better,’’ Otruskevicius said. “We don’t have as many turnovers and we have a lot of good shooters.’’
Addison Trail twice got to within four points in the third quarter, but three free throws expanded Lemont’s lead to 39-32 going into the final quarter.
Balciunas and Shereck then worked inside for back-to-back layups, increasing the advantage to 43-32 early in the fourth quarter.
“We played pretty well tonight,’’ Runaas said. “Defensively we played about as well as we have all year.’’
James Pupillo had 18 points and Vince Beltrano 13 for Addison Trail.
Next for Lemont is a South Suburban Blue game Friday at Eisenhower.
“We want to make sure we keep it up,’’ Runaas said. “We’re in a tough conference. Friday we’ll play against a totally different style. Eisenhower runs it up and down.’’