Coach Josh Virostko knew the first eight minutes of Tuesday's Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinal would be critical for his Lake Park boys basketball team.
Proviso East made sure the final 24 didn't really matter.
Paris Burns scored 14 points, Keith Carter added 12, and the top-seeded Pirates rode their suffocating full-court press and a dominant first quarter to a 73-52 win over No. 5 Lake Park in Schaumburg on Tuesday. Proviso East forced turnovers on four of Lake Park's first five possessions, piling up 11 in all before the buzzer sounded on the 20-5 opening quarter.
"Their first quarter is their best quarter," Virostko said of Proviso East. "Their press is, I'd say, the best press in the state. And we didn't handle it. You don't have to beat it, but you have to handle it.
"The first quarter, I knew, was going to be the difference. If you watched them play, you'd see them do that every single game in the first quarter."
Lake Park's first two possessions ended in turnovers that Proviso East turned into transition layups for Burns. A step-back 3-pointer by Carter gave the Pirates a 9-0 edge before senior Scott Karlis finally put Lake Park on the scoreboard with a layup at the 4:25 mark.
"They're an extremely fast team," senior Zach Wagner said. "We just didn't come out with enough energy."
The Lancers appeared to steady themselves briefly when senior Dave Prentis hit a 3-pointer to make it 14-5. After a quick Lake Park timeout, Proviso East junior Paris Lee forced three consecutive steals at halfcourt -- leading to two fastbreak layups for him and one frenzy-inducing righthanded dunk for junior Sterling Brown -- to push the lead back to 20-5.
From there the most notable plays were an alley-oop from Carter to senior Trashaun Carroll for a two-handed dunk late in the second quarter and a Jevon Carter 3-pointer that briefly pushed Proviso East's lead to 30 in the fourth.
"It was huge," Pirates coach Donnie Boyce said of Lee's steal and 3. "That's always been our key. Paris Lee, Paris Burns and Keith Carter do a great job of really getting into opposing guards and rattling them.
"It gives us the opportunity to open up our transition game, and everything kind of clicks after that."
Brown added 13 points for Proviso East (29-0), which advances to play the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between Oak Park and Schaumburg at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Schaumburg.
The winner of that game earns a supersectional berth.
"Every game, each round, gets harder," Boyce said.
Wagner led Lake Park (20-9) with a game-high 16 points on 7 field goals. Karlis added 9 and senior Dominique Spencer had 8 as the Lancers experienced some success using their size advantage to outmuscle the Pirates in the post.
The problem was getting the ball inside.
"The thing is, in order to get it down low, you've got to break the initial front," Virostko said. "When we took good shots, we executed pretty well."