West Chicago’s John Konchar got a kick out of St. Charles North’s gymnasium.
“I’ve never played in this gym, but I like it,” said the Wildcats’ 6-foot-4 senior swingman.
What’s not to like after Konchar scored 45 points Thursday to establish a new program record of 1,491 points and lead West Chicago to an 89-82 win over the North Stars in the fourth-place game of the Upstate Eight Conference crossover series.
Swishing a 3-pointer from the left wing at 7:06 of the second quarter for his 16th point of the game, Konchar broke the former record of 1,461 held by his coach, 1983 West Chicago graduate Bill Recchia, who can take solace that in his day there was no high school 3-point arc.
“I’m really just speechless on how big this accomplishment is,” Konchar said. “I didn’t think I was going to get it at the beginning of the year. It is a lot of points, but I just toughed it out, worked on my game all summer, just worked on every aspect.”
It showed on Thursday. While scoring his second-highest total since a 49-point game Dec. 19 against South Elgin — setting the Wildcats’ single-game mark — Konchar added 15 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals and 5 blocked shots. In addition to going 13 of 17 from the foul line Konchar made 14 of 19 shots, 2 misses desperation 3s as quarters expired.
“Spectacular,” said St. Charles North’s Tyler DeMoss as he left the building. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“He’s the best player we’ve seen this year,” added North Stars coach Tom Poulin.
“I always said that whenever that record got broken — I mean, it’s been there 31 years — I wanted to be there to congratulate whoever did it,” Recchia said. “As it turns out I was blessed enough to be able to coach the kid that did it. It’s a great achievement for a great kid and a great career.”
Konchar’s assists also helped teammate Mikey Bibbs score 18 points and both Mitch Henke and Marco Lomibao add 10 apiece.
They all added up because after West Chicago (16-10) led 23-9 late in the first quarter and 75-57 with 5:39 left in the game, St. Charles North (16-9) waged a furious rally.
Finally forcing turnovers after West Chicago made just 4 through three quarters, the North Stars closed the game on a 25-14 run.
“I thought we could have sped them up and forced turnovers whether we were in our matchup zone, whether we were man to man, whether we were in our zone press, whether we were in a man press,” Poulin said. “The only thing that did it was getting down in double digits and having about half of a quarter left and that’s what lit a fire in us.”
At the end, of course, Konchar closed it out with four free throws and a final basket.
That left St. Charles North in the odd position of having its starting backcourt combine for 57 points in a loss. Alec Goetz scored 29, Jake Ludwig 28, and forward Jack Callaghan added 16 points.
“This game, I think it’s going to wake us up,” Goetz said. “Us seniors realize that, you know, at this point we’re one and done. We lose one, it’s over. This is the time.
”It’s like the beginning of the season, nobody believed in us. Nobody’s believing in us now so we have to come back and play like we played at the beginning of the season.”