Palatine stormed to a 16-2 lead midway through the first quarter of its Mid-Suburban West boys basketball game with Schaumburg Friday, but the Pirates still needed to convert possessions down the stretch to earn the 50-41 victory.
Sophomore Matt Ulrich, who led all scorers with 18 points, scored 9 in the first quarter when he made 3 of 4 3-point shots. The Pirates hit on 6 of 10 from the field in the quarter.
"It felt like everything was going in," said Ulrich who made 7 of 12 shots in his best offensive performance of the season.
The scoreboard will show a 9-point win for the Pirates (11-13, 2-7), but the visiting Saxons played Palatine even over the last three quarters.
"They punched us in the mouth to start the game," Schaumburg coach Matt Walsh said. "Credit them. I thought the last three quarters our kids competed real hard."
Johnnie Flynn (8 points) made a pair of free throws and followed that with a putback with 3:16 remaining to pull Schaumburg (7-15, 2-7) within 4, at 37-33. That's where the momentum shifted back to the Pirates.
Mike Williams (9 points) grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a 3-point play to make it 40-33, and he made another putback with 1:47 left to stretch the lead to 45-36. Palatine made 9 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"Around Christmas, we strung a couple of wins together and proved to ourselves that we don't mind being in close games," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said.
"Coming out strong is a goal for every team," said guard Chris Macahon (9 points). "We converted our shots down the stretch. We know that going into the fourth quarter, coach trusts us with the ball. We got it done today.