The Wheaton Academy boys basketball team put lessons learned in the second half of Friday night's 25-point loss to St. Viator to good use Tuesday night against Suburban Christian Blue rival St. Francis and it meant a 59-55 home victory.
"We got beat up by St. Viator in the second half. This is such a learning time for us," said Warriors coach Pete Froedden. "I thought we handled the third quarter tonight really well. I thought we showed a lot poise."
Wheaton Academy (5-2, 1-0) outscored St. Francis (3-2, 1-1) 19-8 in the third quarter on blazing 7-of-9 shooting from the field while the Spartans cooled to 3 of 11 after staying around 50 percent during the first half.
Junior guard Josh Ruggles, who finished with 8 points, said one of the lessons learned from the second half of the St. Viator game was focusing on smaller points of the Warriors' game.
"We played against St. Viator looking at the big picture the whole time. We were looking tonight at short runs and taking a possession at a time," he said.
After Gordon Behr, who led Wheaton Academy with 14 points and 10 rebounds, tied the game at 33 on a 3-pointer, the Warriors finished out the quarter on an 11-4 run.
Chandler Fuzak, who finished with 13, put through seven of that during the period.
"It was all about poise and handling the ball in tight situations," he said.
Even though the Warriors led by 7 points at the end of the third quarter, Froedden knew his team would have to fight off a Spartans' charge in the final quarter. Zach Prociuk, who scored a game-high 17 points, sank two free throws to tie the game at 46.
The fourth quarter was all about free throws. St. Francis hit 11 of 12 and Wheaton Academy 9 of 10. But in the final four minutes, the Warriors hit 6 of 7 and got key baskets from Ruggles and Christian Smith with the Spartans nailing 4 of 5 free throws and getting just one field goal during that span.
Adam Hart and Jason Sullivan each had 11 points for St. Francis. Michael Shaw had 10.
"I thought we really defended well in the first half. I think we were back on our heels in that third quarter," said Spartans coach Bob Ward. "I'm disappointed that we got beat. But I think we are a better team than when we got on the bus tonight. Like anybody else in December, we are a work in progress. I like our grit and our kids. We took a step forward."