Carmel seniors Jack George and Billy Kirby made sure history didn't repeat itself in a rematch with Prairie Ridge in the seventh annual Crystal Lake Central Coaches vs. Cancer Thanksgiving Tournament.
A year ago, the Wolves rallied from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter for a victory as Michael Bradshaw erupted for 38 points. On Wednesday afternoon, the Corsairs found themselves in a similar position at the CL Central Fieldhouse.
This time Kirby contained Bradshaw and no one could stop the 6-foot-10 George as he had 28 points and 9 rebounds in Carmel's 58-49 victory.
"We really stayed strong ... and we grinded out the victory," George said after hitting 10 of 12 shots and scoring 9 points in the final 3:54.
"Our experience last year really helped us," said Kirby, who added 7 points. "We were in a lot of game situations and we know what to expect."
Bradshaw, a 6-3 senior, had 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting but Kirby blanked him in the second half until he hit a free throw with 2:34 to play. Carmel (2-0) coach Tim Bowen had Kirby on PR (1-1) junior 3-point threat Payton Otto in the first half but made the switch after Bradshaw scored 8 second-quarter points.
"Every time I'm called to step up and make a contribution to the team in whatever way I can, I'm excited to do that," Kirby said. "The key was denying the ball the whole time. Just full denial on him."
Bradshaw only took 2 shots from the field in the first 15:16 of the second half.
"He did a super job, he was awesome," Bowen said of Kirby. "He's also bringing the ball up, scoring points and guarding their best player, so that's hard to do, but he did it tonight."
George scored 19 points to push Carmel to a 35-26 lead 2:03 after intermission. But turnovers on four straight possessions sparked PR and it got within 42-39 on a jump hook by 6-5 Steven Ticknor (20 points) with 4:18 left.
George answered with 2 free throws and blocked and rebounded Bradshaw's drive to set up a drive by sophomore C.J. Duff, who scored 7 of his 9 points in the fourth quarter. One of PR's 22 turnovers led to Kirby's drive to make it 48-39 at 2:51.
George also hit 2 free throws and a layup after PR twice got within 7 points in the last 1:04 and Lee Bowen (9 points) hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final 24 seconds.
"He's a lot better, his jump shot on the baseline is better, he's a lot more aggressive and he's stronger," Tim Bowen said. "He's been pretty good about getting to the basket and finishing strong and he's really taken on that leadership role of being dominant in the post and rebounding."
George also had 20 points and 13 rebounds on Monday against 6-8 Belmont University recruit Amanze Egekeze of Huntley.
"All of my high school career I've been able to do those things," said George, whose career best is 34 points. "This year my teammates are doing a good job of giving me open looks so I can play my game. Monday was a really good game and that helped my confidence a lot."
McHenry 62, Antioch 49: A.J. Marsiglio scored a game-high 24 points and hit three 3-pointers as Antioch fell to 1-1 in the tourney. Kyle Postal (14 points), Cody Freund (11 points), Mike Lawrence (11 points) and Greg Johnson (10 points) led McHenry (2-0).