It took three games, but Maine West finally put it all together.
The Warriors cut down their turnovers and effectively attacked a 1-2-2 zone in delivering a 77-58 victory over Rolling Meadows in the final round-robin game for both teams in their pool at the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic at Palatine.
"We got something clicking," said Jack Collins, a 6-4 senior who scored 28 points, hit his last 9 shots and virtually outrebounded Rolling Meadows all by himself.
"We had a rough start the first two games," said Collins of losses to Jacobs and York.
Turnovers hurt the Warriors (1-2) against Jacobs, and not solving the 1-2-2 zone hurt against York.
Rolling Meadows (0-3) plays a 1-2-2 zone, so having gone to school on that in the loss Wednesday to York, Maine West was ready to attack it.
Were they ever.
The Warriors scored 16 straight points in the first quarter to turn an 8-7 edge into a 24-7 bulge, Collins scoring 6 straight on free throws while taking fouls around the basket, plus a putback. Milos Dugalic (13 points) added a 3-pointer and with everyone contributing Maine West established a lead that would not be challenged.
From there, Collins and Meadows' impressive freshman Max Christie (24 points) traded buckets the rest of the way. But Collins got better support as Darrington Bates scored 8 points in leading a ball-hawking effort that forced 24 turnovers. Collins, meanwhile, helped Maine West to 32-19 rebounding advantage.
"We definitely wanted to get that No. 1 win under our belts," said Maine West coach Tom Prokopij. "That was our Achilles heel the first two nights."
"We've got to take care of the ball," Collins said before noting he was off to find and thank point guard Bates and swingman Dugalic for their assists to him off their penetration and transition efforts.
Rolling Meadows is looking for a less volatile approach to the game.
"We just need to find some consistency," said Mustangs coach Kevin Katovich, whose team plays Tilden at noon Saturday in the matchup of fourth-place pool finishers.
Meadows would certaily benet from another big effort from Christie.
"He did a really nice job," Katovich said. "So did Sean Nolan," off the bench. Meadows did show off its shooting touch, as Matt Schoessling, Javonte Warrener, Billy Psarros and Brendan O'Donnell all showed nice form from the perimeter coming in off the bench.
Maine West, meanwhile, will play in the third-place pool finishers' game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Waubonsie Valley.