Dundee-Crown was poised to reward its small but loyal and vocal contingent of superfans who made the long trek Saturday night to Evanston's venerable Beardsley Gym.
The decibel level from the visitors was rising as the Chargers' double-digit deficit was falling to 2 points midway through the fourth quarter of the nonconference boys basketball game. But the Wildkits had the ultimate silencer by scoring the final 11 points of a 56-43 victory.
"I definitely think we could have taken advantage," senior Brandon Rodriguez said after scoring 7 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth-quarter run which drew D-C within 45-43. "But we weren't used to this atmosphere and we haven't seen a team as quick as they were. They definitely took it to us."
The Wildkits' (9-17) quickness produced damaging consequences from behind the 3-point arc for D-C (17-7). They shot 9-for-17 and the third one from Nibra White (14 points), who was part of an all-junior starting lineup, made it 50-43 with 2:33 left.
CJ Singletary (14 points) hit a 3 to put the Wildkits ahead to stay 2:09 into the game and White's 3 started a 10-point run to give them a 21-6 lead. Four other 3s pushed their lead back into double figures.
"It's hard to fight back when they hit another big one after another one," Rodriguez said.
"They were hard to guard," said D-C coach Lance Huber after Evanston shot 48.9 percent (23-for-47) from the field. "We scouted them a couple of times and (White) hit three 3s tonight and we hadn't seen him make one.
"We had a hard time staying with them with their speed on the outside and they made us pay by backing off them."
But D-C kept plugging away as it trailed 45-34 going into the fourth quarter. Rodriguez hit a 3 in a sequence with 3 offensive rebounds, a baseline pullup jumper and a jumper.
"My teammates helped me get open and I called for the ball and knocked down shots," Rodriguez said after shooting 9-for-19 from the field and getting 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. "They got some big rebounds and made the extra pass."
Deonta Conley then drew the fourth charging foul -- Jack Buckley also drew two and Rodriguez took the other -- and eighth offensive foul on Evanston. Rodriguez missed but J.T. Beasly (8 points) rebounded and Dylan Kissack hit a 15-footer to cut the deficit to 45-43 with 3:34 left.
Singletary then found 6-foot-4 sophomore Elijah Henry (8 points, 5 rebounds) for a layup 17 seconds later to start the Wildkits' big finish.
"I don't think we've seen anybody as quick, disciplined and skilled as these guys," Huber said. "Their quickness caused us some problems and I think we have some pretty quick guys."
Huber and Rodriguez hope this trip pays some quick dividends in a couple of weeks.
"It will help us tremendously because we don't see too many teams as fast as they are," Rodriguez said.
"It's good for us to see something different," Huber said. "We can use it as a reference if we happen to make a run in the postseason and play teams that are up-tempo."
CL South 61, Marengo 57: The Gators got 22 points from Nick Geske and 19 from Austin Rogers to win this nonconference game. Max Meitzler added 9 points for Crystal Lake South (11-14).