When you're facing the likes of perennial powers St. Joseph, Proviso East, Hales Franciscan, East Aurora and Downers Grove South, you can't afford to have a bad quarter.
When you struggle for an entire half, your chances to pull out a victory are diminished even more.
St. Charles East (0-2) only managed to score 5 baskets through the first 16 minutes while falling behind 24-14 at halftime of Wednesday night's game against St. Joseph (1-1).
Although the Saints staged a fourth-quarter rally, their comeback hopes fell short during a 56-51 loss to the Chargers in the second round of the 52nd annual Ron Johnson/St. Charles East Thanksgiving Tournament.
"We were real disappointed with the first half obviously, scoring 14 points," said Saints coach Brian Clodi, whose team committed 14 first-half turnovers, including 9 in the opening quarter.
"We were tentative," added the coach. "The timing was off and there was no flow. We just couldn't get in any kind of a rhythm offensively."
St. Joseph enjoyed late runs in both the first and second quarters while building its double-digit halftime advantage.
After a 3-pointer by Dom Urso tied the score at 8, Chargers guard William Gates (8 points) capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer and 12-foot jumper to make it 15-8 after one quarter.
Andrew Carrano's putback cut the deficit to 17-14 with 3:38 left before halftime but the Chargers scored the final 7 points of the quarter.
"The guys come back to us (in the huddle) and I think they're just a little timid right now," said Clodi. "There's nothing to be timid about. We want them to be aggressive. We're playing a little bit tight right now."
Sophomore guard Kendall Stephens (13 points, 4 steals) and junior forward Johnny Hondlik fueled the Saints' second-half rally, combining for 25 of the team's 37 points.
St. Charles East, which trailed 37-29 after three quarters, pulled within 6 on four different occasions in the final period before Charlie Fisher's 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 48-43 with 3:51 remaining.
But the Chargers answered every St. Charles East challenge, hitting their first 5 field-goal attempts and making 7-of-9 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"I'm real proud of making it a game and having a chance in the fourth quarter," said Clodi. "But our kids are also learning how much a possession means. A stupid turnover here, no box out there there's no margin for that against a great team like St. Joe's."
Hondlik led the Saints with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
"We've got to come out with the same intensity we had in the fourth quarter," said Hondlik.
Joe Edwards paced the Chargers with 21 points.