Boys Basketball: South Elgin grinds out win over Lake Park
Updated: November 25, 2011 9:52PM
They gave up height and experience, but the players from South Elgin gave no quarter when it came to guts and intensity on Friday night.
Storm coach Chaz Taft’s team won 49-42 over Lake Park in third-round action of Fenton’s Chuck Mitchell Thanksgiving Tournament, improving to 2-1 on the year and reaching a perennial goal.
“We want to hold teams to less than fifty points,” Taft said. “We lost but only gave up 29 (vs. Fremd) on Wednesday. It comes down not to how big you are, but how big your heart is and how much you want to play defense.”
Darius Wells paced the Storm with 14 points, followed by Jacob Maestranzi with 13 and eight from Willy Gagic. Against a bigger Lancers (2-1) team with no shortage of returning players, smart money may not have been on the relatively inexperienced Storm.
“We expected to play hard,” Wells said. “We didn’t know what would happen tonight, but we knew we would play hard.”
South Elgin overcame a rough first quarter that saw Lake Park’s defensive intensity earn the Lancers an 11-5 lead. The Storm rebounded with a 15-7 scoring edge in the second quarter and a 10-6 edge in the third to take a 30-24 lead into the final period.
An intense fourth quarter featured eight points from Maestranzi to lead the way, as the Storm went 12 of 16 from the free throw line and never relinquished its lead. Offensive patience and defensive grit keyed the win.
“We got yelled at a little bit after Tuesday’s game (a 57-44 win over Fenton),” Wells said. “We were told to step it up and stop giving up easy baskets. We take pride in playing defense at South Elgin.”
Taft liked the defensive presence that center Matthew Downing (8 rebounds, 3 blocks) brought to Friday’s game, and singled out Wells and junior Kristopheroy Fojas for their day’s efforts.
“I thought Kris Fojas, as the game went on, he’s just getting more and more mature as a varsity player,” Taft said. “And I thought Wells shot the ball well, within the offense. He’s getting better every day, too.”
The Storm close out play of Fenton’s tournament on Saturday, when it takes on Elk Grove at 5:30 p.m