Crystal Lake South nearly shut out Cary-Grove in the second quarter, but the Gators couldn't put away the Trojans in the second half.
Cary-Grove had a chance to tie on its final possession but missed, and the Gators hung on for a 36-33 win in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball action in Crystal Lake Friday night.
Cary-Grove, which trailed by double digits in the first half, actually took a 1-point lead twice in the fourth quarter. A basket by Chris Mahoney finally put the Gators ahead for good at 34-33, and they added 2 free throws for the final margin.
Cary-Grove's final shot, a long 3-pointer, missed at the buzzer.
Josh Friesen scored 9 of his 11 points in the second quarter for South (15-10, 4-7). Mahoney and Caleb Johnson added 7 points apiece for the Gators, who snapped a 4-game losing streak.
Tyler Szydlo scored 10 points for Cary-Grove which, at 15-11 overall finished conference play at 7-5.
"We got passive in there and they came back," said South coach Matt LePage. "We talked in the huddle about playing to win the game. Don't play to lose, play to win. And we went to the basket, got a couple of layups, got a stop and got the win."
The Trojans led 10-7 in the first quarter, but the Gators scored the final 4 points of that period and the first 10 of the second quarter. Cary-Grove missed its first 9 shots of the period before Jason Gregoire connected on a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left.
"I think we had some open looks," said Cary-Grove coach Ralph Schuetzle. "That's kind of how we've been. In the Jacobs game, we went 3-for-23 in one stretch."
But for all that, the Trojans had a chance to win it at the end.
"Defensively, we ratcheted it up in the second half," Schuetzle said. "It was 15 turnovers to 4. Actually, we took the lead for a little bit. Then we had a turnover on the baseline that killed us. We had opportunities and just couldn't seal it."
It wasn't like the Gators tried to take the air out of the ball.
"I wouldn't say slow things down as much as lock down a lot more," said South's Steve Thomas. "Our defense has been struggling, but it was really good this game, especially in the second quarter."