Waubonsie Valley senior center Bryan Jefferson knew what he had to do in the second half to help the Warriors beat tornament host Palatine on Friday night.
Waubonsie Valley had struggled in the first half at the annual Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Tournament, but Jefferson's inspired second-half play helped the Warriors advance to Saturday's 5 p.m. championship game against York by topping the Pirates 54-44.
"Bryan stepped up big in the second half," said Warrior coach Steve Weemer. "He had some foul trouble early in the game. But he's a big piece of the pie for us."
Jefferson scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and grabbed 7 rebounds, of which 3 came in the third quarter.
"When Jared (Brownridge) has a good game he comes through for us," said Jefferson. "When he had some trouble (with an injury in the second quarter), my role is to step up. I do what I can do to help the team win. In the first half our shots weren't falling. We weren't being aggressive to the hole.
"In the second half we came out more agressive and went to the basket. Our defense caused some turnovers and that helped."
Palatine (2-1) led 13-11 after one quarter and had leads of 18-13 and 20-17 before the tide turned for Waubonsie Valley just before halftime.
Erick Cepada's only basket put the Warriors (3-0) ahead for good at 22-20 with 1:03 left before halftime. Brownridge came off the bench to pop in a 3-pointer with :02 left and a 25-20 Waubonsie Valley lead.
The Warriors then went on a 12-2 run to start the second half and led 37-22 with 5:10 left in the quarter.
The Warriors took advantage of 6 Palatine turnovers, converting them into 7 points. Jefferson and Javares Stewart each scored 4 points in the run.
Palatine wouldn't quite, though, and went on a 11-3 run to finish the quarter trailing 40-33.
A 3-pointer by the Pirates' Chris Macahon (9 points, 4 rebounds) cut the lead to 45-41 with four minutes left.
Brownridge (15 points, 8 rebounds) then took over, scoring 6 of the Warriors' final 9 points. The other 3 came from Jefferson.
"I'm proud of the way Jared finished the game," said Weemer. "I have high expectations for him as he does for himself. But give Palatine a lot of credit. They played hard and outplayed us a lot of the game. We did a better job rebounding in the second half and we were more aggressive with our offense off of the dribble."
Waubonsie won the rebounding battle 30-23 and had a 16-10 edge in the second half.
"We had a four-minute span in the third quarter where we had a lapse," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone. "You can't let up against a team like that. We showed a lot of fight getting the lead down to 4 but we just couldn't get over the hump. It was encouraging to see them keep battling"
The Pirates saw Roosevelt Smart and Greg Grana score 8 points each, and Jordan Jarrett had 7.
Palatine will play for third place against Niles North at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.