Tom Poulin was simply pleased to get a win.
"Tuesday night, finals week -- those are excuses," the St. Charles North boys basketball coach said after the North Stars' posted a 44-36 Upstate Eight Conference crossover victory over Bartlett. "We're not going to make excuses."
Far from an ascetic piece of art in St. Charles, the North Stars rarely trailed.
But the North Stars' uptempo approach that has been a defining characteristic this season was virtually missing in action the entire evening.
"We wanted to speed up the game," Poulin. "Bartlett did a good job of not allowing that happen. They took away our transition."
Garrett Johnson opened the second-half scoring for the North Stars with an inside field goal, and St. Charles North (10-5) never trailed again.
Bartlett (10-7) would forge the only ties of the game at 26-26 and 28-28 moments later, but Jake Ludwig, who led both teams with 19 points, gave the North Stars an advantage never to be surmounted.
The North Stars, despite their inability to score in transition, limited the Hawks to single-digit scoring in three of the four quarters.
Ludwig had a steal as Bartlett played for the final shot in the third quarter, and the senior guard fed Tyler DeMoss with a perfect pass to give St. Charles North a 34-28 lead heading into the final period.
Bartlett shot 5-for-20 (25 percent) after the intermission as the North Stars limited the Hawks to 12 second-half points.
Ryan DiCanio, who personally outscored St. Charles North in the second quarter to give the Hawks a 24-23 halftime lead, and Justin Busch brought the Hawks to within 3 points on separate occasions in the fourth quarter.
But Johnson had a huge putback, and Ludwig scored 4 points in succession to put the game away.
Bartlett had several potential momentum-changing 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter flirt with the basket, but the squad collectively missed its final five attempts of the game.
"(The Hawks are) physical on defense," said Ludwig, who had to shoulder more of a scoring load as backcourt mate Alec Goetz was limited to a season-low 2 points. "We weren't mentally into (the game offensively). Luckily, we got the 'W.' They didn't hit their shots (in the second half)."
Each team had only one player in double figures, but nine players scored in all for the North Stars.
Jack Callaghan had 9 points and 8 rebounds, while Poulin praised the contributions Johnson and Camden Cotter made off the bench.
Bartlett took over 12 minutes of the opening half to break double figures, but DiCanio and Brian Triphahn jump-started the Hawks' offense with back-to-back second-quarter 3-pointers.
The arc suddenly became contagious as DiCanio, a junior guard, then hit three 3-pointers in succession, including the last of his 14 second-quarter points seconds before the buzzer to give Bartlett its second -- and final -- lead.
"In the beginning of the game we couldn't buy a bucket," DiCanio said. "I just wanted to try and get us back into the game by halftime. They never checked out on me, so I kept shooting. In the second half we just didn't make any shots."
Robbie Jimenez added 8 points for Bartlett.