What a difference the return of a key starter can make for a team. Just ask the South Elgin Storm.
Missing 6 games due to a knee injury, Darius Wells returned to the South Elgin boys basketball lineup in style, contributing 16 points including 3 3-pointers in leading the Storm to a 58-41 win over Tilden Tech in second round action of the Jacobs Holiday Classic in Algonquin Wednesday afternoon.
The win for the Storm (3-11) broke a 10-game losing streak.
"I played terrible, but it was nice to help the team win," said Wells. "I was slow and a little out of shape, but got through on adrenaline. I am sore and still rehabbing, but it was nice to get back on the court. I need to play as much as I can to get back into game shape."
Wells, who was 6-of-10 from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point range, dished out 4 assists and contributed 5 steals.
"Darius' aggressiveness and energy really helped us," said South Elgin coach Chaz Taft."He is still rusty, but his play was acceptable. He will get better with every game."
Backing Wells was Matt McClure, who scored 13 points which included 2 3-pointers.
Ryne Lundy and Robert Grant provided a solid inside presence for the Storm. Lundy scored 9 points with 8 rebounds while Grant came off the South Elgin bench to provide 8 points with 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Taft was especially pleased with Grant's contribution.
"Robert is a very aggressive player and gave us a spark tonight," said Taft. "He got us some key baskets and key rebounds and played solid defense."
Aiden Potts was the lone Tilden player in double figures with 23 points. He also had 9 rebounds but fouled out with 3:14 left in the game.
Leading 37-30 after 3 quarters, South Elgin seized control of the game by starting the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run. Jacob Hicks scored all 8 of his points during the streak which included a pair of treys.
Grant scored 4 points as the Storm extended a 7-point third quarter lead to 18, 52-34, with 3:26 remaining in the game.
South Elgin's biggest advantage of the game was 22, 58-36, with 1:34 remaining after a layup by Matt Padron.
"It was nice to get a win," said Taft. "I have been just trying to coach the team up the best I can."