Carmel's struggles were a matter of time in Friday night's nonconference boys basketball game at Huntley.
It took more than six minutes for the Corsairs to score a point and nine to finally make a field goal. They needed more than 16 minutes to reach double-figure points and 32 minutes and 22 seconds to finally take a lead.
Once they got the lead they never let it go in a 38-31 victory as they improved to 4-1 and showed why this may be the time to turn around the fortunes of a program which has struggled through 20 consecutive losing seasons.
"It was definitely a huge win," said 6-foot-9 junior Jack George, who had 9 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. "We came out and gave it our best and I'm really proud of everyone on the team to come back from the first half, play through it in overtime and finish the game the way we know how."
Junior Nickai Poyser's 3-pointer from the left wing 22 seconds into overtime broke a 29-29 tie. Billy Kirby (7 points), whose 3-pointer with 1:19 left in regulation forced the extra session, scored on a drive off an offensive rebound by Cullen Barr (7 points, 8 rebounds) with 1:56 left.
Huntley (3-1) got within 34-31 on a right-side runner by Bryce Only (9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals) at 1:45 but missed a chance to tie with 25 seconds left and George and Poyser sealed it as they each hit a pair of free throws in bonus situations.
"We stepped it up and fought through adversity," Barr said. "If we can do that we can do some things."
The entire first half was filled with adversity as Carmel was just 3-for-19 from the field, committed 11 turnovers and trailed 16-8.
"If I had been a fan in the first half I think I would have went back and asked for my money back," joked Carmel coach Tim Bowen. "Jack, Cullen and the boys were pretty fired up at halftime. I wouldn't say they were upset but they were aware of what happened in the first half. We didn't have to say much."
George had 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks after intermission and Carmel matched its first-half point total in the first 5:12 to tie the game.
"The offense started flowing and we started getting confidence," Barr said after the Corsairs shot 11-for-21 from the field after the break and committed just 2 of their 18 turnovers in the final 14:10. "Everybody really stepped up and did a nice job."
Huntley responded even though senior starting guard Tommy Regan, who suffered a broken finger on his right hand in practice Tuesday that may keep him out for a month, joined 6-7 Amanze Egekeze (knee) on the sideline. T.J. Adams (9 points) and reserve Trevor Oslance hit consecutive 3s to make it 22-16.
But the Red Raiders couldn't hold on after Jake Wagner's 3 put them up 27-22 with 5:28 left in regulation. A bad pass with 53 seconds left prevented a chance to regain the lead and forced them to try a 3 at the buzzer that missed after a Carmel miscue with 2.4 seconds to play.
"To break it down simply, we did a horrible job of passing and catching the basketball," said Huntley coach Marty Manning, whose team shot 29.5 percent (13-for-44) and had 16 turnovers. "I'm really proud of our guys defensively because they adhered to the game plan to a T. But some of the passes we made were unexplainable."
Another bad Huntley pass came after Poyser calmly connected from behind the arc after missing 6 of his first 7 shots. It was further evidence the times may be changing for Carmel.
"For them to be able to battle through that -- they have goals set and standards they're trying to reach and the boys are really in tune to that and want to make a difference," Bowen said. "Tonight in the second half and overtime you could kind of see they wanted to do that via the struggles they had earlier in the game."