St. Charles North boys basketball coach Tom Poulin will be the first to admit his team didn't do a lot of things particularly well on Wednesday night.
However, good teams find a way to win even when they are having an off night. That's exactly what the North Stars managed to do as they did some things just well enough to pull out a 49-45 victory at Bartlett in Upstate Eight Conference crossover action.
Kyle King and Cade Callaghan each had 13 points to lead North.
"I wasn't real happy with the way we played," Poulin said. "We didn't execute our plays very well. Our shooting was off and on defense we let them into the lane too many times. But we still gutted out a gritty win at a tough place to play."
The game see-sawed back and forth with 5 lead changes and 3 ties. It was tied 34-34 with 4:10 left to play when Lucas Heflen drained a 3-pointer to put North on top for good 37-34. Heflen usually comes off the bench, but made the most out of a starting opportunity.
"Every time he's in the game he makes a positive impact in multiple ways," Poulin said. "He's just a true teammate that's going to do whatever it takes to help the team win. That was a big shot for us."
Callaghan and Erik Larson followed with baskets and the North Stars made 8 of 13 free throws down the stretch to help maintain the lead.
"We've been in some close games already this season," Poulin said. "So they know what they need to do in tight situations. We made a couple shots down the stretch and couple a couple defensive stops when we needed them."
Callaghan scored 7 of his points in the fourth quarter, including a bucket in the post and 3 clutch free throws down in the final minutes to help the North Stars (4-2) seal the deal.
"We knew we were going to be in a battle all night," Callaghan said. "But we continue to battle through and respond in those situations."
Bartlett was without its top scorer Ben Tompson, who is nursing an ankle injury.
The Hawks (2-5) came out strong with a 9-2 run to start the game. However, the Hawks shot just 2 of 14 from the field the rest of the first half and fell behind 20-15 by halftime. They briefly recovered at the start of the third to regain a 21-20 advantage on a transition layup by Byron Price and again led for the last time 23-22 with 3:50 left in the third quarter on a jumper by Austin Gates.
After relinquishing the lead the Hawks played catch up the rest of the way, managing to pull even at 30 and 34. A Gates 3 with 14 seconds left had the Hawks within 47-45. After a North free throw the Hawks had a chance to tie, but turned the ball over.
"It came down to some sloppy play in the first half that cost us a chance to build on our fast start," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. " Then in the fourth quarter the difference was they were able to hold the lead or at least not give it up. We'd keep coming back and every time they had an answer."
Gates had 15 points to lead Bartlett in scoring. Tomas Vikonis added 12 points and Price finished with 11.