Boys Basketball: Downers North puts away Nazareth
Updated: December 30, 2011 2:12PM
Downers Grove North coach James Thomas doesn’t know where to begin when accessing the importance of senior Rob Mahlke to the team.
“He’s a great basketball player, but he’s a better kid,” Thomas said. “He’s an absolute treat to be around. He’s a leader, a great friend, student and kid in the community. We’re light a couple players and we’re having him being a point guard, shooting guard and our interior post man. He’s really just manning up and doing everything. I can’t say enough great things about him.”
Mahlke played a key role in the Trojans salvaging a game in the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament Friday with a win over Nazareth 61-53.
The 6-foot-7 forward had a game-high 25 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
“I knew that I was going to be the go-to guy this season,” said Mahlke, who had 32 points and 16 rebounds in a loss to Eisenhower Thursday. “I’m ready to do whatever coach asks me and do it to the best of my ability. I’m one of the only returning starters, so I want to lead my teammates and help the young guys get better. My teammates are finding me with open looks and I’m just knocking down the shots and making my free throws.”
Downers North (4-9) led almost the entire game, including its biggest lead at 18-5, but Nazareth (4-9) wouldn’t go down easy.
The Trojans took a 34-25 lead in the third quarter, but the Roadrunners used a 10-0 run to take their lone lead of the game at 35-34. The score remained close until Downers North broke a 43-43 tie in the fourth quarter with a 13-2 spurt to open up a comfortable 56-45 lead with 1:37 left.
Nazareth pulled within 57-53 but could get no closer.
“It was two tough teams that would probably do anything to get a ‘W’ at this time of year after losing three in a row,” Thomas said. “It’s a tough game to get up for but we challenged our kids to make sure we played for four quarters. It got a little dicey for a while, but we got to the free-throw line and the kids finished it off there.”
Downers North, which made 17-of-22 free throws in the fourth quarter, also received key contributions from Dave Henson (11 points, four rebounds) and Rimas Barsketis (10 points).
Nazareth was led by John Bonk (22 points, two steals), Alex Edwards (nine points, three rebounds) and Tyler Jackson (six points, nine rebounds).