St. Charles East basketball coach Patrick Woods has a simple philosophical approach when it comes to outside shooting.
"These guys know that I'm not going to take them out for missing a shot," said Woods. "When you're a shooter, you can't be afraid to shoot. I've got to stick with them and that builds confidence in them."
After suffering through a miserable shooting first half that included 2-of-14 accuracy from beyond the 3-point arc, the Saints (12-7, 5-2) finally caught fire at the right time Thursday night.
Sophomore guard Jake Asquini canned three 3-pointers, added a steal and layup, and assisted on Ben Skoog's inside bucket during a 21-4 second-half surge that propelled the Saints to a 58-51 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory over Streamwood (9-15, 1-7) in St. Charles.
St. Charles East trailed 37-32 before Asquini began the comeback by hitting a 3-pointer off a feed from classmate Cole Gentry (3 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter.
"It helped because I was off in the first half," said Asquini, who scored all 11 of his points in the second half after misfiring on his first 3 long-range attempts. "I needed to see one go in."
After David Mason's 12-foot jumper tied the game at 37-37 on the Saints' opening possession of the fourth quarter, the 6-foot-6 junior forward blocked a shot at the defensive end to help set up another Asquini 3-pointer from the corner, as the Saints went on top to stay, 40-37.
Less than a minute later, Asquini connected on his third consecutive 3-point attempt to extend the Saints' lead to 45-39 with 6:29 left.
"I see Jake shoot in practice all the time," Woods said of Asquini. "The kid doesn't miss when he's open."
Asquini's tipped offensive rebound of a missed free throw led to the last of four 3-pointers by junior guard Dom Adduci, who had 17 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.
"Once we got one (3-pointer), the floodgates opened," said Woods.
Tyler Windau added 9 points and 5 rebounds, as the Saints rallied from a 34-25 deficit midway through the third quarter.
"We shot better," Woods said when asked about the second-half difference. "I thought we played with good energy (in the first half) -- we just didn't hit our shots. I credit Streamwood, too. They're very active defensively and that zone (defense) was pretty solid."
Streamwood, which received double-digit offensive production from Jacob Siewert (13 points), Joel Lightbourne (13 points, 10 rebounds), and Zack Harris (10 points), outscored the Saints 14-8 in the second quarter to grab a 26-22 halftime advantage.
"I thought we had a tremendous effort," said Sabres coach Tim Jones. "We were mixing up our defense and trying to keep them off-balance. For the most part, it worked but they're going to hit some threes. And when they don't make them, you've got to block out."
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Siewert and Harris' baseline jumper upped the Sabres' lead to 9 before the Saints switched to a man-to-man defense.
"I thought it was a good idea coming out for the second half to go big," Woods said of a lineup that included Dan Wilkerson (6-7), Skoog (6-5), Windau (6-4), Mason, and Adduci. "It did slow them down but unfortunately they had two good looks and hit both threes."
The Saints, however, drained 6 second-half 3-pointers of their own (8 of 30 for the game) as they stayed deadlocked with Larkin and Geneva in the loss column heading into tonight's key clash at Geneva.
"There's a lot of basketball left in this conference but we can control our own destiny," said Woods.