Rather than offering a motivational speech at halftime, St. Charles East basketball coach Patrick Woods opted to give his players some extra practice in the St. Charles North gym Monday night.
"We were just doing some shooting drills," said Woods, whose team will return to face the North Stars (16-9) Wednesday night following its convincing 78-49 Class 4A regional quarterfinal victory over Streamwood (2-28).
"We got a good feel for the gym and we continue to play well," added Woods, who emptied his bench and received more scoring from the non-starters (44 points) than the starters (34).
The Saints (17-11) certainly found their shooting touch as they combined to tie a season high with 16 3-point baskets.
Junior guard Jake Clodi scored a career-high 18 points -- all on six 3-pointers -- to lead the way as the Saints cruised to a 24-6 first-quarter advantage and never looked back.
"I was feeling it," said Clodi, who combined with teammates Jake Asquini, Cole Gentry and James McQuillan for five 3-pointers in the opening quarter. "I usually don't like the gym and I don't like the rims but tonight I was feeling loose."
"He's one of the best shooters on our team," said Woods. "He has grown a lot this season. Myself, I'm more impressed with his defense that has improved a ton since Day 1. His shooting has always been there but his defense has gotten a lot better."
Senior forward A.J. Washington scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half as the Saints carried a 39-17 lead into the locker room -- or should I say -- into the shooting drill at halftime.
The Saints continued their onslaught from beyond the arc in the third quarter as junior forward Mick Vyzral canned a pair of 3-pointers.
By the time it was over, 11 different Saints scored points with 8 of them making at least one 3-pointer -- Clodi (6), Vyzral (2), Dom Adduci (2), Mike Settle (2), Cam Miller (1), Gentry (1), McQuillan (1) and Asquini (1).
Was there ever a thought of "saving" some of those 3-pointers for Wednesday night?
"No, no -- it's all about confidence and getting your rhythm at the right time," said Woods. "It's our fifth win in a row. I think we're there."
Adduci, who played sparingly while trying to bounce back from a sprained ankle suffered 2 weeks ago, added 8 points, highlighted by his long-range jumper that just beat the third-quarter buzzer.
"We tried to go eight minutes with him tonight -- two minutes each quarter," said Woods. "That's pretty much the plan we stuck to."
Dave Mason finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds while Gentry added 7 points and 9 assists.
"We had 27 assists as a team," said Woods. "That goes to show you where we're at. We're really together right now."
Senior Antonio Harris paced the Sabres with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
"We don't have any height so we try to cover up inside," said Sabres first-year coach Paul Kowalyszyn. "It's not just that. Our help-side defense is late and our closeouts are poor and slow.
"I told them at halftime that they always played hard but there's a difference between playing hard and playing well. We've got to put the two together."
Meanwhile, St. Charles East awaits the rubber match of its 3-game season series with St. Charles North.
"We're ready," said Clodi.