The Rolling Meadows boys basketball team went through some hard times the first few weeks of the season.
Injuries to key players along with getting other into basketball shape following football season also contributed to coach Kevin Katovich's woes.
"We're getting the pieces of our puzzle back together," said Katovich after Rolling Meadodws delivered a 56-33 win over visiting Wheeling on Friday night. "We're very unselfish. Every night we have a different player stepping up."
Friday night, senior guard Jack Milas picked up the slack in a key third quarter for the Mustangs (3-6 overall, 1-2 Mid-Suburban East).
Milas, who's Ball State-bound for football, connected four times for 3-point baskets in the quarter to help turn a close game into a runaway. Milas finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds.
Rolling Meadows led 22-21 with 7:11 left in the third quarter when Milas and company went to work.
Milas hit a 3 pointer, Sean O'Neill got a hoop, Milas hit another three, Matt Dolan (7 points, 12 rebounds) scored, and Milas connected for two straight 3s to make the score 38-21 before Wheeling's Jeremy Stephani stopped the bleeding with a basket at the 2:02 mark.
"Jack is now in basketball shape," said Katovich. "It takes a month or so to go through the transition. He was the hot player tonight, and the other players gave up shots because Jack had the hot hand. We also did a good job on the boards (with a 38-14 rebounding edge). We stressed that this week in practice."
"I still think we have a shot to win the conference," said Milas. "Two years ago when I was a sophomore, we lost our first three games and then won seven straight. Tonight we knew we had to stop Stephani (9 points); that was our game plan. We had to rebound. Matt Dolan and Brian Sabal (8 points, 10 rebounds) did a great job. I think my game on offense and defense has improved alot. It's just taken a little bit of time to adjust."
On the other side, Wheeling coach and former Rolling Meadows sophomore coach Tony Como lamented his team's effort.
"We really thought we had a good game plan," said Como. "We needed to execute. I was a little disappointed in our execution. We're still learning as a team. New coaches, new system. Meadows did a real nice job on us. They have a great group of kids that play hard."
Wheeling (3-7, 0-3) was paced by Chris Pierro, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half to help keep the Wildcats close.