Members of the Bartlett boys basketball team held the championship trophy high after beating Wheaton Academy 63-52 on Saturday afternoon to clinch the title of the Warriors' Thanksgiving Tournament.
But Thanksgiving holiday tournaments are more than just team trophies and all-tournament plaques, they are about learning the good and the bad of your team as you venture out and face the majority of your schedule.
"We're not big, but we're fast and we can create turnovers," said Bartlett junior Ryan DiCanio, who was named tournament MVP after scoring a game-high 23 points against the 3-1 Warriors.
Bartlett (4-0) has just four seniors on the roster. Two of them, Jordon Anderson and Justin Busch, followed DiCanio on the scoresheet with Anderson hitting for 12 and Busch 10.
"Our defense was outstanding all four games," said Hawks coach Jim Wolfsmith. "The last two games, this one and the one against Downers Grove North, our offense has clicked. Our transition game worked and we were knocking out shots down.
"We've gotten better every step of the way in this tournament."
Wheaton Academy shot just 26 percent from the field, while Bartlett shot 40 percent in the opening quarter with the Hawks leading 18-12.
Both teams' offenses heated up in the second period, each hitting 50 percent of their shots. But Bartlett led at intermission, 38-29.
The Warriors pulled to within seven at 42-35 with 3:29 left in the third quarter on senior Gordon Behr's basket. Behr led Wheaton Academy with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Warriors knocked the Hawks' lead down to single digits one more time late in the fourth quarter on Josh Ruggles' 3-point basket with 1:23 left in the game. He finished with 10 points, Bennett Fuzak had 9 and Chandler Fuzak grabbed 9 rebounds. Fuzak suffered an ankle injury late in the third quarter and had to be helped off the court. The extent of the injury wasn't known immediately after the game.
"This is huge. We're such a young team and this is a big momentum booster," said DiCanio.
For Wheaton Academy coach Pete Froedden, Saturday was about his team learning from this game what it needs to do to improve.
"It's really just emphasizing adversity. Teams get into those adverse situations and thrive in them. We didn't do a good job of that," he said. "Bartlett is a well-coached team and very decisive in what they do and we need to be that way. Bartlett helped us learn today. We'll refocus this week. We'll be OK."
Ruggles and Behr were named to the all-tournament team for Wheaton Academy. Anderson and Busch were named for Bartlett.