Free throw shooting has been just about as much miss as hit for Maine West's boys basketball team this season.
But the Warriors were on the mark 30 times in 42 attempts Friday night as they rallied from a 14-point deficit for a 61-49 victory which knocked Niles North out of the Central Suburban North lead in Skokie.
Conor Hart and Kevin Garcia scored 26 points apiece and combined to go 23-for-31 at the free-throw line as the Warriors (12-9, 5-3) won their fourth straight game.
"The difference was we strung together some stops and got back to the free-throw line and made shots with the clock stopped," said Maine West coach Erik McNeill after his team rallied from a 42-34 deficit after three quarters. "We made most of our free throws when we needed to."
Niles North (15-7, 5-3) lost its second straight game after winning 10 in a row and dropped out of a first-place tie with Glenbrook North (15-5, 6-2), which beat Highland Park 44-20.
Hart shot 7-for-10 from the field and made 11 of 17 free throws. Garcia made a pair of 3-pointers and hit 12 of 14 free throws.
Cody Zimmerman had 9 rebounds and Matt Finnander drew a key charging foul with the Warriors up by 3 points.
Malachi Nix scored 21 points for the Vikings but was 5-for-21 from the field.
"Defensively we did a great job of limiting them to one shot," McNeill said, "and we just defended Nix and got him off his game with different looks in our zones.
"We were a little more patient in the second half. We could have unraveled real easily."
Christian Liberty 62, IMSA 45: Kyle Moriarty scored 17 points to lead a balanced attack for Christian Liberty (13-8, 5-3) in the Northeastern Athletic Conference victory.
Ben Thomas scored 14 points in his fifth game back from an injury, Luke Comerouski scored 11 points and Mike Hennek added 8 points.