While the first 3 minutes didn't go exactly according to script, St. Charles North's basketball team enjoyed a much better ending Tuesday night.
Trailing Plainfield East 10-2 after committing 4 turnovers through the first half of a sloppy opening quarter, North Stars coach Tom Poulin burned an early timeout to calm some nerves.
"We kind of regrouped and reminded them of how we wanted to play," said Poulin. "We started the game out with one pass and then let it go."
St. Charles North (1-0) outscored Plainfield East (0-1) 10-4 in the remainder of the quarter, took its first lead of the game on a free throw from Erik Miller with 59 seconds left in the first half, and went on a 19-8 third-quarter surge on the way to a 67-50 victory in the 54th annual St. Charles East/Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament.
"I thought we did a good job of not trying to come back in one possession," said Poulin, whose team will face North Lawndale (0-1) tonight.
The North Stars closed out the first half in strong fashion, as sophomore Jack Callaghan buried a 3-pointer and Miller (6 points) followed suit with a double-clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer -- part of a 6-0 run over the final 23 seconds.
"That kind of us brought us together going into halftime," said Poulin. "It was a positive and it gave us a great deal of energy. They were dying to get back out here (for the second half)."
Loyola-bound Quinten Payne scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half for the North Stars, who also got 14 points and 3 steals from junior guard Alec Goetz, and 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals from 6-6 senior forward Justin Stanko.
"I was pressing a little bit at the start," admitted Payne, who hit just 1 of his 9 field-goal attempts in the first half. "It's going to be a roller coaster. Sometimes you're going to play unbelievable and sometimes you're going to miss some shots. You can't control any of that.
"Once we got settled in, we did a great job as a team. We can grind it out defensively -- that's what we lived on."
The North Stars forced 10 Bengals turnovers during their explosive third quarter that included an 11-0 run keyed by three-point plays from Payne and senior guard Tony Neari (5 points).
"I was real proud of our effort defensively," said Poulin, whose team limited Plainfield East to 29 percent shooting from the field (15-of-51). "I think that helped get us back in the game and I thought we did a good job on the boards.
"They sped us up early and we kind of took the bait," added Poulin. "When we slowed down, executed and made them play defense for an extended period of time, we got the looks we wanted or ended up at the foul line."
The North Stars hit 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Sophomore guard Aaron Jordan paced the Bengals with 17 points before fouling out with 4:17 remaining.