PONTIAC -- Tom Poulin could barely contain his enthusiasm after his St. Charles North boys basketball team defeated Bloomington for fifth place at the original holiday tournament Saturday evening.
"I have never been more proud of a group in a long time," Poulin said after Quinten Payne pumped in 29 points to lead the North Stars past Bloomington 61-49 at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
Long associated with St. Charles basketball as both a player and coach, Poulin said the benefits were far greater than any achievements on the court.
"(Pontiac) is so challenging it forces you to come together as a team," Poulin said. "If you don't bond as a team, you get embarrassed (on the court). It's a great time to bond."
In a historic day-plus, the North Stars (9-5) battled two of the most decorated programs in state history -- West Aurora and Peoria Manual -- before yet another first-ever encounter with Bloomington.
Payne was sensational the entire game for St. Charles North.
The senior bound for Loyola attacked the rim with abandon while also doing his usual damage from the perimeter.
His twin 3-point plays in the third quarter were crucial for the North Stars, who also received major contributions from starters Alec Goetz, Tony Neari, Kyle Swanson and Justin Stanko.
Goetz hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help stake the North Stars to a 31-28 lead, and Bloomington (9-4) was clearly affected by playing its second game of the day after the break.
"It shows," Bloomington coach Michael Mosley. "When you go against Division I players for three straight days, it takes a lot out of you."
After shooting 54 percent (13-for-24) in the opening half, the Raiders were undercut by the North Stars' tenacious man defense.
Bloomington could manage only 4 points in the third quarter as St. Charles North built the first of multiple double-digit leads.
"We did a great job of helping the helper," Poulin said.
Payne tallied 11 of his game-high total in the fourth quarter.
It was an experience not soon to be forgotten.
"It was just awesome to play in this type of environment, with some of the best players in the nation playing right before and after you," Payne said. "The crowds were just unbelievable. I think this is going to be a springboard to where we want to go."
Stanko finished with 10 points for St. Charles North.
Jamaal McDavis and Brady Rose scored 13 points each to lead Bloomington.