The Cary-Grove boys basketball players have spent the last three weeks rallying, so playing eight more minutes of catch-up hardly fazed them Tuesday night.
Trailing visiting Dundee-Crown by 5 points through three quarters, the Trojans sank all 5 field goal attempts and 5 of 7 free throws in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Chargers 16-5 to register a 44-38 victory in the Fox Valley Conferece Valley Division.
The win lifted Cary-Grove --a team that on Dec. 21 slipped to 3-6 -- to 8-7 overall, 2-1 in the FVC Valley.
"It was a great win to get over .500 for the first time in a while," said Cary-Grove junior Jason Gregoire, who led the Trojans with 19 points and 4 assists. "More importantly, it was a conference win that got us over .500."
The loss was the second straight for the Chargers (4-10, 0-3). D-C shot 2 of 9 in the fourth quarter, 13 of 38 overall (34 percent).
"We couldn't put the ball in the basket," said D-C senior guard Cordero Parson, who was the exeption with his game-high 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including four 3-pointers. "We couldn't get a stop and we couldn't get a rebound. We have to dig in and play harder, that's all it is. More effort."
Cary-Grove senior guard Devin McDonough played a key role in Cary-Grove's strong finish. He sank a 3-pointer at the outset of the fourth quarter to draw the Trojans within 33-31. Later, with the contest knotted 35-35 with 2:21 to play, McDonough dribbled into the lane, used a shot fake to get his defender in the air, then calmly drained an open jump shot that gave his team the lead for good.
"It was a high-percentage shot from the elbow," said McDonough, who finished with 10 points. "I haven't taken many pull-ups this year so I was nervous, but it was a good shot so I let it go."
Cary-Grove led by only a point with 1:16 remaining when Gregoire missed the front end of the bonus but fought to get his own rebound. His putback staked the Trojans to a 39-36 advantage.
"I thought (the free throw) was going to be long because it didn't have much arc on it," Gregoire said. "Then it bounced right to me and no one boxed me out."
Not boxing out Gregoire was one mistake D-C coach Lance Huber pointed out after the game, but the veteran coach didn't blame his team's fourth-quarter performance alone. He pointed to a pair of errant first-quarter passes that resulted in turnovers, a "dumb" half-court pass right before halftime that led to a Gregoire layup, and a defense that allowed Gregoire to sink an open 3-pointer to start the third quarter.
"It comes down to the fourth quarter but it all adds up," Huber said. "When things are kind of going bad, they snowball. We have to find a way to stop the snowball from rolling."
Dundee-Crown sank 5 of 10 attempts from 3-point range in the first half to take a 20-16 lead at the intermission. Parson then scored 11 of his team's 13 third-quarter points to give D-C a 33-28 lead heading to the final period, but it wasn't enough to hold off determined Cary-Grove.
"We were 3-6, so we've come a long way," Cary-Grove coach Ralph Schuetzle said. "But we have to get better offensively. We're still working on that and trying to make some changes. I think we just have to play fast: pass, cut, move, attack and if you have a 3, stick it. I think that's the direction we have to go."