There's a new mindset at Palatine and it's sinking in nicely for the boys varsity basketball team.
Keeping their poise under pressure, knocking down clutch shots, playing sticky defense and grabbing big rebounds are getting to be the norm for the Pirates, who held their ground Friday night at Barrington in a 61-55 Mid-Suburban West win.
In fact, the Pirates (9-6, 3-2) never trailed as they got off to a fast start shooting the ball. But it was their work at the other end that might have been more telling, closing out on Bronco shooters as well as getting physical on the defensive boards and being all over the floor for loose balls.
"We had a good rebounding mindset. We had a good defensive mindset," said Pirates coach Eric Millstone after his club out-rebounded the Broncos and forced them into a 3-of-11 night on 3-pointers. Against Barrington's precise, grind-you-down motion offense, the Pirates fought through picks and kept hands in shooters' faces throughout.
In particular, sophomore point guard Chris Macahon chased Barrington all-conference guard Brad Zaumseil all over the gym, and with a lot of help, limited him to 5 points on 2-of-10 shooting. But he cited his team help.
"(Zaumseil) moves well without the ball. He's quick," said Macahon, who scored 15 himself on his patented floater down the lane and an early 3-pointer that helped set the tone.
"We knew coming in we're not going to shut him down," Millstone said of Zaumseil. "Sometimes you've got to guard him with five guys."
Which it must have seemed like at times to the 6-foot-2 Broncos senior. Hounded and foul plagued, he didn't even score until the third quarter. And when head coach Bryan Tucker sat him down as his fouls piled up, his club went three straight possessions without scoring, two without shooting, as Zaumseil's steadying hand was missed.
No matter what though, the Broncos couldn't match Palatine's firepower. Sophomore Roosevelt Smart patiently waited for the game to come to him, and the Pirates star shooter began to assert himself as the game progressed, wearing down defenders with a mix of perimeter jumpers and scoop moves to the basket en route to a game-high 19 points.
Forward Greg Grana, fighting off foul problems of his own, quietly hit 3-of-4 3-point attempts (Palatine hit 6-of-8) and scored 15 points in a solid all-around effort.
"He's becoming a complete player, a team leader," Millstone said of his senior who personifies the progressive "mindset" driving the Pirate success.
Barrington (9-7, 3-2) meanwhile, struggled to find its shooting touch and a combination that would click. The Broncos hung around early on some good free throw shooting from Zach Bart, Raymond Tolentino and Scott Nelson (team-high 13 points). But they didn't find their range until after they had fallen behind by double digits in the fourth quarter, as Robby Vollman (12 points) and Austin Madrzyk knocked down 3-pointers.
"They [Palatine] played great defense," said Tucker. "They took us out of a lot of things.
"We've got to really concentrate on our execution," before Tuesday's nonconference game with Huntley, he said. "We had a few stretches," where the offense clicked, he noted, before adding, "A few stretches are not going to get it done."