Downers Grove North boys basketball coach Jim Thomas didn't talk to his team about Xs and Os at halftime of Tuesday's game at Wheaton Warrenville South.
He stressed competing, something Thomas felt the Trojans didn't do enough of during a ho-hum first half.
That all changed in the second half as Downers North rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat the Tigers 47-45 in action from the Addison Trail preholiday tournament.
Trojans senior guard Ray Greco scored all 16 of his game-high points in second half, hitting three of his four 3-pointers and tallying 12 points during a fierce third-quarter rally. Five total 3-pointers narrowed the gap to 35-33 heading to the fourth quarter, and midway through the final quarter Downers North (3-3) grabbed its first lead since the opening minute of the game.
Austin Polezoes knocked down a 3-pointer to pull WW South within 44-42, and then Chris Simpson tied it at 44 with 53 seconds left. David Edwards put Downers North back on top with a pair of free throws.
Keishawn Watson split a pair of free throws for the Tigers, and Jared Whitacre did the same for Downers North. WW South got off a last-second 3-point attempt for the win, but it fell short to preserve the Trojans' victory.
"He just told us we've got to keep playing inside ourselves and control what we can control," Greco said. "In the first half we weren't saying anything, we were just doing our own thing. Then we started playing as a team and talking more."
WW South's fortunes completely changed from one half to the second. The Tigers (0-2) hit 10-of-18 first-half shots, including four 3-pointers from three players and built their first 14-point lead on a 3-point play by Aidan Hernandez less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Downers North, meanwhile, struggled mightily on offense. Not only did the Trojans shoot 6 of 23 in the first two quarters, they also committed 13 turnovers to trail 27-13 at the break.
A 9-0 run to start the third quarter, however, signaled an end of the struggles.
"I don't think anything changed, we just didn't finish," said Tigers coach Bob Szorc. "The story of the game is they absolutely killed us on the offensive glass. I thought we had great shot selection in the first half and we're still maturing in terms of how to have a great possession in a clutch situation."
Devin Blake, who scored 15 points with 5 assists, had 4 of the Trojans' 15 offensive rebounds. Edwards added 5 more.
No one reached double-digit scoring for WW South, but all eight players who saw court time made a field goal. Matt Kienzle, who led with 9 points, and Polezoes each made a pair of 3-pointers.
"The only thing we changed was we talked about playing with passion," Thomas said. "I felt like we didn't come out and compete. We had better effort and energy in the second half."
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