Boys Basketball: Highland Park’s defense torments Maine East1/19/12. Park Ridge. Highland Park's Ross Chukerman blocks a shot by Maine East's Ezeke Omeke. Highland Park took on Maine East at Maine East High School. | Tracy Allen~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 19, 2012 10:13PM
Highland Park’s defense played with a chip on its shoulders and tormented Maine East to jump out to a big lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, downing the Blue Demons Thursday night, 64-37.
Giants’ senior guard Jake Norcia keyed the rout with 12 first-half points, cutting off several Blue Demons’ passes to lead a surging fast-break offense and delivering head coach Paul Harris’ 200th victory.
“It just means I’m getting older,” Harris quipped. “But this is a milestone for this program, for the team … not an individual.”
“It’s been rewarding to see the improvement of all the players over the years,” he added.
The Giants (10-6) looked inspired across the board from the onset, especially with a fierce performance by Ross Chukerman in the paint as he hammered in a game-high 21 points.
“This is a very well-coached team,” Maine East head coach Dave Genis said. “They are very understanding of the team concept and buy in to what this team is trying to accomplish.”
Harris said that, with it being finals week, he was pleased with his squad’s wherewithal.
“They came out very sharp,” he said. “Their routine has been altered this week because of finals but they came out and responded in a big way.”
Norcia clogged passing lanes and notched five steals, leading to uncontested layups on the other end.
“All week we have been focusing on defensive drills and anticipating passes,” said Norcia, who finished with 18 points and eight assists. “Our other guys were getting their hands in there and I was fortunate enough to get in there and scoop them up.”
Aaron Shannon finished with 15 points to lead Maine East (4-13).
“We lost some of the speed that we showed in our last matchup with Highland Park,” Genis said. “In all facets we came out flat and more slow tonight … our passes, our thoughts, our movements.
“There has to be a lot more energy to win against teams like this.”