When you play a basketball team as talented as St. Joseph, you had better be on your game to come out with a victory.
Despite a valiant effort, St. Charles North (3-1) came out on the losing end of a 58-49 decision at the hands of state-ranked St. Joseph (4-0) during Saturday's championship game of the 55th annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament at St. Charles East.
Despite shooting just 33 percent from the field (17 of 52) and 21 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (5 of 24), the North Stars whittled a 29-22 halftime deficit to 33-32 on Jake Ludwig's 3-pointer from the corner with 3:46 left in the third quarter.
But the Chargers finished the quarter with a 11-2 run, fueled by a 3-pointer of their own by junior guard Glynn Watson (18 points), and 6 straight points from eventual tournament Most Valuable Player Jordan Ash (13 points, 8 rebounds), to extend their lead to 44-34.
"You make a couple poor decisions or miss a couple shots and it goes from 3 points to 10 points in a hurry," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin, whose team recorded its second consecutive second-place tournament finish.
The North Stars managed just 1 field goal over a 7-minute period spanning from the middle of the third and fourth quarters, as the Chargers finally seized control.
"We had good looks from good shooters but those long rebounds turned into layups at the other end," said Poulin.
"We felt that we wanted to play up-tempo (in the second half) but I was leery because of foul trouble," said St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore, whose team captured its first Thanksgiving title at St. Charles East since 2006 when current Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner was a member of the Chargers' squad.
"I didn't know if we should go press them so we did it the other way -- we ended up running the ball. We were getting boards and running the ball down the floor and it opened everything."
The loss spoiled a spectacular performance from North Stars junior guard Jake Ludwig, who finished with a game-high 28 points -- including five 3-pointers -- to go with 7 rebounds and 4 steals.
"I was just trying to be aggressive," said Ludwig.
Take away Ludwig, and the rest of the North Stars shot a collective 21 percent from the floor (5 of 24), including 0-for-16 on 3-point attempts.
"Throughout the entire game, we didn't shoot the ball well," said Poulin. "Guys that typically make those shots were missing them. That's not the way we've been playing. Throughout the tournament, we've had four guys around double figures each game. Tonight, we just had one. You can't do that against St. Joes."
Not when the Chargers have 3 players reach double figures, as 6-9 sophomore center Nick Rakocevic joined Watson and Ash with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
"That's what we've been preaching for years," Pingatore said of his team's balanced attack. "After four games, we've got four guys averaging in double figures. That's what I like."
Alec Goetz and Erik Miller added 7 and 6 points, respectively, for the North Stars.
"At the start of this (tournament), nobody had us playing at 7:45 on Saturday night," said Poulin. "These guys know how to play basketball. We got better tonight because we had to do things that we haven't had to do in the last three games."
In earlier action, St. Charles East (2-2) edged Downers Grove South 74-72 for a fifth-place finish. Senior guard Dom Adduci scored a game-high 29 points while sophomore teammate James McQuillan added 11 points for the Saints.
Danny Spinuzza led the Mustangs (1-3) with 24 points.
"I thought Dom shot the ball really well today (11 of 19) and got others involved," said Saints coach Patrick Woods. "The more we do that, the better we'll be."