Entering the holiday tournament assessment period on the boys basketball schedule, St. Charles East's win over Batavia on Saturday displayed what the Saints are doing well, and what the Bulldogs will work to improve upon.
St. Charles East forced 24 turnovers and shared the ball when it got them, cruising 72-49 in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play in St. Charles.
"We really work the ball, we find each other really nicely and we're really getting that team chemistry down where we know we can rely on each other, we know each player's strengths and weaknesses and we can build off that," said the Saints' virtually unguardable senior guard Dom Adduci, who scored a game-high 24 points.
And the defense, which got steals from six different players off a half-court trap and occasional full-court press?
"That goes with working off each other, too," Adduci said. "Because now we feel comfortable with which guy's coming from where, and we can definitely feed off that. We feel like we can pressure a lot of teams and then turn the ball over, which we have these last couple of games."
In addition to saying Adduci "took a huge step forward" in distributing the ball -- Cole Gentry, James McQuillan and Jake Asquini all reached double digits, and A.J. Washington planted a couple dunks off assists by Adduci and Gentry -- Saints coach Patrick Woods enjoyed the pace.
"We try to speed things up," Woods said. "We like playing that up-tempo style so we try to force people into playing faster and obviously tonight we were successful with that."
Turning the ball over on four of its first eight possessions, Batavia (2-7, 0-4) still clung within 10-6 of St. Charles East with three minutes left in the first quarter. St. Charles East (5-4, 3-2) closed the quarter on a 6-0 run then went up 28-12 midway through the second quarter on an Adduci pullup jumper following a steal by Mick Vyzral.
Danny Piecynski's 3-pointer had Batavia within 31-22 of the Saints with 38 seconds left before halftime. Working for the last shot, St. Charles East capitalized on a Washington basket, Gentry assisting, for a 33-22 halftime lead.
Batavia is fine when it does not turn the ball over 9 times in a quarter, as it did in the first.
"You saw in the Larkin game (a narrow 69-65 defeat) that we can compete with anybody as long as we take care of the ball," said Batavia's Micah Coffey, whose 11 points followed Tyler Lovestrand's 13 on perfect 4-for-4 field goal shooting and 2-2 on free throws.
"We didn't do that tonight, so the outcome was the way it should be," Coffey said.
The outcome was sealed in the third quarter after Batavia's Chasen Peez cut the Saints' lead to 39-29 with 2 free throws. St. Charles East countered with a 19-8 run, forcing 5 turnovers, to enter the fourth quarter leading 58-37. Adduci and Gentry combined for 20 of the Saints' 25 points in the quarter.
The Saints eventually led 69-41 at 5:08 of the fourth on an Asquini drive.
The Elgin Holiday Tournament quickly allows Batavia to get back after it.
"If you're thinking as a player, that's the best thing you want, come back out and play and get a chance to do some things," coach Jim Nazos said. "We're going to look at Elgin as a lot of games in a short period of time, a chance for us to put it together. It happened there last year for us (third place). I believe it can happen again."