In every sport, not just boys basketball, coaches say the same thing -- big players make big plays.
In what otherwise was a team victory, as Waubonsie Valley coach Steve Weemer called the visiting Warriors' 68-60 win over Lake Park in Roselle, guard Jared Brownridge's 16-point fourth quarter was big.
"You don't want to put too much pressure on him," Weemer said of the Santa Clara-bound senior, "but at the same time he's got to step up like that."
Brownridge had 9 points through three quarters and finished with 25. Outside of an early 5-2 deficit and a 48-48 tie very early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors led throughout but could never dust the Lancers behind forward Sean Moore's 18 points and 17 apiece by guard Carlos Cortez and center Jake Ktsanes.
Waubonsie Valley (7-4, 3-3) finally put the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division win away with four Brownridge free throws and two rebounds in the last 34 seconds. Waubonsie made 9 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter and 20 of 30 in the game.
"I guess in the beginning I started off slow and I need to stop doing that," Brownridge said. "I need to make sure I come out every game hard from the beginning and then make sure I control that all the way through the game."
Lake Park (7-5, 3-4) and Waubonsie kept pace, the Warriors adding scores in bunches. Bryan Jefferson, 6-foot-7, scored 7 of his 12 in the first quarter before picking up two fouls. Brownridge enjoyed a 7-point run on a long 2, a 3 and a steal plus a lay-in for a 55-48 lead at 6:50 of the fourth.
"Twenty of their 30 points in the first half were on transition layups. We've got to do a better job of that," said Lake Park senior forward Jeremy Caboor.
Lancers coach Josh Virostko said just that in a second-quarter timeout. Later it was a different story.
"Third quarter we were getting back and preventing dribble-drive," Virostko said. "Fourth quarter they were getting into the lane every chance they got. That's when we started fouling, and they got to the free-throw line. That was the difference in the game."
While Moore and Marcus McDaniel contained Brownridge early and Jefferson and 6-4 Javares Stewart were foul-plagued, point guard Gary Sutton, 6-3 Jamal Robinson and forward Dylan Warden, with 8 points off the bench, buoyed the Warriors. Jack Cordes grabbed 4 fourth-quarter rebounds, Nick Karkazis canned a key 3 to hold Lancers at bay.
"I thought we had a good team win tonight," Weemer said.