Lance Huber and his Dundee-Crown Chargers could finally crack a smile.
Breaking a 6-game losing streak and winning for the first time in 2014 and in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division play, D-C hung on for a 46-45 boys basketball win over Cary-Grove Tuesday night in Carpentersville.
'This was by far our best defensive effort of the year and our best all-around game of the season," said Huber. "The kids have stayed in good spirits despite all the losses. The kids got tired of losing. They reaped the fruits of their labor tonight."
It was D-C junior Malik Dunner who came up with the winning basket and keyed the Chargers' stellar defensive effort.
Trailing 45-44, Dunner drove the baseline and lofted the ball over two Cary-Grove defenders with 55 seconds left to give D-C (5-14, 1-6) a slim 1-point lead.
Led by Dunner the Chargers blanketed the Trojans (11-9, 4-3) on their final possession. Cary-Grove had to settle for a 25-footer by Devin McDonough which fell short.
Dunner, a junior forward, did a remarkable job defending Cary-Grove's Jason Gregoire, shutting him out in the first half and limiting him to 7 second-half points, well below his average.
"My job was to deny him the ball," said Dunner. "We really dug in and wanted this one. Most of our practices lately have been strictly defense and it showed tonight, We played hard-nosed defense for 32 minutes.
Huber praised Dunner's efforts.
"Malik Dunner set the tone on defense and came up with a huge shot," said Huber. "He was outstanding on Gregoire. He didn't give him many good shots."
Connecting on 5-of-6 from 3-point range for 83 percent, the Trojans led 25-19 at halftime. Senior guard Mike Krich was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and McDonough and Mike Coleman each hit 3s as the Trojans built a 6-point lead after 16 minutes.
The Chargers battled back and had their biggest lead at 3, 42-39, after a layup by Kiwaun Seals with 4:17 left.
Coleman and Nick Barr buried 3s to give the Trojans a 45-42 lead with 2:42 left and D-C sliced the lead to 1, 45-44, on a layup by Seals with 2:12 remaining which set up Dunner's heroics.
Nick Munson led D-C with 10 points.
"It has been a frustrating last couple of weeks for us," said Munson. "Tonight we played 32 minutes of basketball."
Seals and Dunner added 9 points each for the winners and Barr paced Cary-Grove with 10,
"They made athletic plays down the stretch and we didn't execute down the stretch,' said Cary-Grove coach Ralph Schuetzle. "We had opportunities to win but didn't get it done."