After Rolling Meadows' boys basketball team lost to Wheaton North in the first round of the York Holiday Tournament in December, the Mustangs found themselves at 2-7.
Saturday night in Des Plaines, the Mustangs' steady improvement in the second half of the season continued to show with a 62-58 nonconference win over Maine West in Des Plaines.
The triumph avenged a 64-55 loss to the Warriors in November at the Palatine Thanksgiving round-robin tourney.
The play of senior guard Jack Schoessling has been one of the factors for Rolling Meadows second-half success.
Schoessling was a key player, scoring 18 points and dishing out 6 assists. He also scored his 1,000th career point.
"I wasn't playing very well in the first half of the year," Schoessling said. "After we lost to Wheaton North, we talked about not wanting to finish 8-20 like last year. By driving more to the basket and kicking the ball off to another player, we started to become more successful."
Schoessling's 1,000th point could not have happened at a better time.
Darrington Bates, who led the Warriors (16-9) with 21 points, had just connected on his fourth 3-point basket of the night to tie the game at 56 with 1:17 left.
Schoessling drove the lane was fouled and made both free throws. The first free throw was the 1,000th point.
With 33 seconds left, Schoessling again was fouled and made both ends of the one-and-one for a 60-56 lead.
Jack Framke, who in his own right played a strong game with 15 points and 5 rebounds closed the gap, to 60-58 with 16 seconds left.
Following a missed one-and-one, Bates tried to deliver from about 23 feet out, but his shot banged off the left side of the rim.
Jared Murphy grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
Murphy, who scored 14 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists, hit both free throws for the final score.
"Jack has really played well in the second half of the season for us," said Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich. "His play has been more aggressive for us. By taking the ball to the hole it helps open up our offense. Jack is a team-first player and he has a great basketball IQ."
The Warriors, who suffered a heartbreaking 59-55 double overtime loss at Deerfield Friday in a first place game for the Central Suburban North title, trailed for the first quarter and a half.
Maine West took the lead at 26-25 on Framke's 3-point basket with 3:26 left in the first half.
Two baskets by Marco Taibi erased the lead and the Mustangs built a 41-28 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Maine West pecked away to take a 52-49 lead with 4:25 left in the game but Murphy gave Rolling Meadows a 56-53 lead by scoring five straight points.
"We had too many mental breakdowns," said Warriors coach Tom Prokopji. "We're better than this but not tonight. Our loss (Friday night) could have come back and hurt us a little mentally. We were going for a championship. It was a trap game that got us today."