When he took over the Hoffman Estates boys basketball program thee years ago, Luke Yanule was used to winning. After all, he was an assistant coach at Schaumburg, where winning was always the norm.
Even after consecutive seasons of 8-15 at Hoffman Estates, Yanule was modeling his program on what he'd learned at Schaumburg. And Hoffman Estates had begun to show strong signs of improvement this season, winning four of their last five games and earning a second-place finish at the Glenbard West tournament over Christmas.
Still, Hoffman needed a signature victory to show that the corner was turned.
That victory may have come Saturday night when Hoffman rallied from a poor start to top host Schaumburg 56-52. It was the first victory for Hoffman over Schaumburg since 2004, a period that covered 19 games.
"We are very excited and humbled," said Yanule, whose team converted 26 of 34 free throws. "It is amazing the character we have. That was a total team win.
"Our win tonight over Schaumburg tells a lot about what Schaumburg program is. I came from here and my roots are here. We want to get to that level."
Schaumburg's Brendan Parker (20 points) was on fire early and helped the Saxons jump out to a big lead lead. The junior nailed nailed all 6 of his shots in the first nine minutes of the game, including a pair of 3's.
With Parker's hot shooting and the tenacious defense by Schaumburg (7-11, 1-4), the Saxons ran off the first 12 points of the game and built the lead to 29-14 with 2:03 left in the first half.
"We got off to a great start," said Schaumburg coach Matt Walsh. "But we just couldn't sustain it."
Schaumburg led 31-20 early in the second half when Hoffman Estates (9-6, 2-3) finally found its game. Led by Jordan Robinson, the Hawks scored the next 7 points on their way to a 13-2 run to tie the game at 33.
"We knew we would bounce back from that bad start," said Robinson, who finished with 23 points thanks to 15-of-18 free throw shooting. "I am the leader of this team and I just tried to make the plays we needed."
Schaumburg's Marquis Woodard hit a 3 with 5:48 left to put the Saxons up 41-38 with 5:48 to play.
But Robinson, along with Trevor Pye, Iziah Robinson (9 points), Brandon Hall and Jorden Thornton, kept the pressure on the Saxons. The Hawks then converted 7 of 8 free throws and Jordan Robinson hit a short jumper as the Hoffman ran off 9 unanswered points to forge ahead 47-41 within 3:45 to play.
"We just didn't have the energy we usually had in the first half," said Pye, who finished with 8 points. "But we were able to find that energy and come back in the second half."
Schaumburg was able to get as close as 2 when Joshua Rahn (8 points) banked in a 3 with six seconds to play to make it 54-52. But Jordan Robinson canned a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds to play to clinch the victory.
The Hawks also got a big lift from Brandon Hall, who returned to the floor after sitting out the first part of the season with a broken right ankle. Hall scored 6 of his 8 points in the fourth quarter to help spark Hoffman Estates.
"It felt good to be back out there," Hall said. "I am still trying to get back in the flow of the game but I was happy I was able to contribute tonight."
Before the start of the game, Hoffman Estates assistant coach Jim Sullivan was honored for the 10 years he spent as an assistant coach at Schaumburg. Sullivan, who was the head coach at Maine West for eight years and directed the Warriors to a fourth-place finish in 1998, is retiring from teaching at Maine West in June after 28 years.