Sam Nelson's dad delivered a large box of frosted birthday cupcakes to his son to share with his Mundelein basketball teammates Wednesday night.
Only a Mundelein victory would have made Sam's day sweeter.
The 5-foot-10 senior guard celebrated his 18th birthday by scoring 14 points in his first varsity start.
"I'm glad I got to spend it playing basketball," Nelson said after Uplift spoiled the Mustangs' fun, winning 102-85 in an entertaining Mundelein Thanksgiving Tournament game.
Nelson estimated he played a total of five minutes in varsity games last season. Starting in place of J.T. Michalski, who was out with flu-like symptoms after posting a double-double in the Mustangs' win over Lakes on Tuesday night, Nelson sank 6 of 11 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"It's a great birthday present," Nelson said. "I just have to thank everyone else because they were all getting me the passes out there. It was just a matter of them finding me. It's pretty easy to make wide-open shots."
Augustin Tronou scored 31 points for Uplift (3-0 in the tournament), which made a lot of shots. The Titans drove to the basket with ease most of the night, finishing 42 of 65 (65 percent) from the field and 16 of 24 (67 percent) from the foul line.
Nate Williams matched Tronou, scoring 31 points to lead Mundelein (1-2), which gave up 36 points in the opening quarter and trailed by 18. Thanks to a 31-point second quarter that included Williams' 16, the Mustangs pulled within 54-49 by halftime on 2 free throws by sophomore Pierre Bailey with 2.1 seconds left.
"When you play fast, and you play like we're playing, the game is going to be higher scoring, you're going to give up some baskets and people are going to think you're not playing any defense," Mundelein coach Corey Knigge said. "There's just more possessions and more opportunities to score.
"Tonight, we didn't play any defense. They just dribbled the ball down the lane and shot layups. And if they missed the layup, they got the offensive rebound and put it in. I can remember only a handful of times when we actually got a stop and rebound and got the ball out."
For the second night in a row, Williams built off his previous game. He was 11 of 23 (five 3-pointers) from the field and 4 of 4 from the stripe.
The senior guard followed up his 18-point effort on Opening Night with 28 points Tuesday.
"When he takes good shots, he's tough, especially with the way they're calling the game now," Knigge said. "He's a tough guard because he's strong and he's quick. If you can't put your hands on him, he's tough to guard in the open court."
Uplift shut down Mundelein in the third, while continuing to score at a high rate. The Titans led 75-57 entering the fourth. Derek Parola hit three 3-pointers, and 5-5 Nick Filippo (7 points) sank a 3 of his own to get Mundelein within 91-83 with 2:38 left, but the Mustangs got no closer.
"It was a fun game to play," Nelson said. "Our big runs brought the adrenaline so that kept us going for a long time. It definitely did get tiring. But we run our practices that hard every day so it wasn't really that big of a deal for us."
Quintin Olagbegi added 24 points and 8 rebounds for Uplift, Jeremy Roscoe had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Jamaya Wayatt (13 points) and Danzel Davies (10) also scored in double figures.
Bailey finished with 15 points coming off the bench for Mundelein. Parola wound up with 13. Despite five new starters on the floor this season, the Mustangs have put up 70, 77 and 85 points in their first three games.
"We're surprising ourselves," Nelson said. "Our offensive production has been way more than we thought it would be. We just got to match our defense to that."