There are times when a 13-point halftime lead can be deceiving.
Thursday night was one of those times for St. Charles North basketball coach Tom Poulin after watching his team walk off the court with a 33-20 halftime advantage over Streamwood (1-4).
"I didn't think we were as intense as we wanted to be," said Poulin, whose team was coming off an impressive second-place finish at the St. Charles East/Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament. "We were settling. It seemed like we were in slow motion. We weren't playing at game speed."
Things certainly picked up for the North Stars (4-1) in the second half as they used a 23-0 third-quarter run to pull away for a 70-41 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory in St. Charles.
After Antonio Harris' putback pulled the Sabres within 35-22, North Stars junior guard Jack Callaghan (9 points, 5 rebounds) canned a 12-foot jumper that kick-started their 23-point unanswered surge.
By the time junior guard Jake Ludwig (game-high 23 points) connected on a 3-pointer with 1 minute left in the third quarter, the North Stars had a built a commanding 58-22 advantage.
"We kicked it into gear," said senior guard Alec Goetz, who contributed 11 points and 6 steals -- 3 of which came during a 2-minute stretch midway through the third quarter. "Our zone (defense) was really active. We got a lot of leak-outs and a lot of easy buckets. That's how we want to play."
Ludwig connected on a pair of 3-pointers while 6-5 senior center Garrett Johnson added 6 points as the North Stars outscored the Sabres 26-8 in the third quarter.
"Defensively, we were more active," said Poulin. "We were moving our feet and getting deflections. That triggered our transition game. I thought it began with our defense and rebounding in the third quarter."
Streamwood coach Paul Kowalyszyn admitted things slipped away from his team in the third quarter.
"We got away from everything that got us to where we were in the first half," said Kowalyszyn, who was making his conference head-coaching debut. "We stopped sprinting back on defense. We stopped fronting the post. We were not on their help side. You can't leave their shooters open. They were open because we weren't in the correct position defensively."
Harris scored 8 of his 12 points in the first half for the Sabres.
"I thought we played well in the first half," said Kowalyszyn. "We stuck to our game plan and the kids did everything we've been practicing."
Jacob Siewert led the Sabres with 15 points.
"Instead of fighting back I think we kind of curled up (in the third quarter)," added Kowalyszyn.
Poulin hopes his team learned its lesson as St. Charles North hosts St. Charles East Saturday night.
"We told the guys what happened in the first conference game last year -- Streamwood beat Larkin -- and a lot of those kids are back," said Poulin. "No matter who you're playing every game is competitive at the varsity level. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night so you have to come ready to give it everything you have for 32 minutes.
"That's not too much to ask."