Falling behind Batavia by as many as 10 points midway through the second quarter, Elgin basketball coach Mike Sitter continued to instill faith in his team from the bench Saturday night.
"I told them to keep being aggressive and keep getting after it," said Sitter. "We're going to get those steals and get in the passing lanes. It just took a little longer."
Once the Maroons (7-12, 3-4) raised their defensive intensity a few notches, they quickly found their game.
Elgin closed out the last few minutes of the first half with 13 unanswered points to grab a 31-26 halftime advantage and continued its momentum throughout the third quarter on the way to a 72-51 Upstate Eight Conference River Division triumph over the Bulldogs (6-13, 1-8) in Batavia.
Senior guard Isaiah Butler, who made the game-winning basket during the Maroons' 59-57 win over Batavia 7 days earlier, ignited the late first-half surge with 6 points, including a steal that led to a thunderous dunk.
Butler finished with a game-high 25 points, 9 rebounds, 7 steals and 4 assists.
"That's what he does best," Sitter said of Butler's steals. "He's very athletic and he has very good instincts as to where the next pass is going and the pass after that."
Butler picked up where he left off with a steal and layup just 15 seconds into the second half.
"We just picked up the intensity coming out of halftime," said Butler.
A few minutes later, teammate Ryan Sitter (15 points) knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and the Maroons extended their lead to 43-30.
"Once one person makes a layup, another gets a steal and hits a jump shot and then everyone gets into it," said Ryan Sitter. "We call ourselves a downhill team because once we get the ball rolling downhill we're tough to stop."
It all turned into a snowball rolling in the wrong direction for the Bulldogs.
Outscored 26-9 in the third quarter, Batavia trailed by as many as 27 points (72-45) during the game's final minutes.
"We've got to learn how to play with what we're going to be successful," said Batavia coach Jim Nazos, whose team committed 15 of its 22 turnovers over the middle 2 quarters. "We didn't make the extra pass, we gave up some boards and we turned it over."
Led by Tucker Knox (15 points, 8 rebounds) and Danny Pieczynski (6 points), the Bulldogs got off to a solid start as they scored the game's first 7 points and led 12-2 midway through the opening quarter.
A 3-pointer by reserve guard Jacob Roberts pushed Batavia's lead to 24-14 with 4:39 left in the second quarter.
"The first 80 percent (of the half) was played exactly how we wanted to play," said Nazos. "They put that spurt on us the last two minutes of the half but it (Elgin's lead) only got to five."
Elgin's defensive pressure led to 19 steals -- 4 by sophomore guard Desmond Douglas and 3 by sophomore guard Lavion Baldwin.
"You have to have a high enough IQ where you recognize what other teams are going to do," said Mike Sitter. "We just had to recognize what passing lanes they were going to look to reverse the ball and get in those passing lanes."
Baldwin came off the bench to score 14 points while Donte Harper had 10.
"He's a sophomore and he's up and down," Sitter said of Baldwin. "The talent is immense. I don't know if I've coached a kid with more natural talent but he doesn't have a high motor yet and that's hard to coach."
Micah Coffey added 7 points for Batavia.
"We've got to get better," said Nazos. "There's a lot of season left and I still believe we can do it."