Anyone searching for a living, breathing example that hard work pays off can look no further than Lisle senior Devin Tincu.
Growing from what he described as a "6-foot-1, 150-pound freshman who could barely shoot the ball 15 feet," Tincu is now a 6-foot-5 tower of power averaging 12 points a game for the Lions.
On Friday night his season-high 19 points paced the way to a 62-37 defeat of visiting Wilmington in Interstate Eight Conference action.
"I was moving within the offense and the guys were getting me the ball," said Tincu, who also credited his big night to, in no particular order, a good night's sleep, his typical gameday chicken lunch, healed blisters on his feet, the presence of his father at the game and the vocal support of Lisle's raucous student section. "When you get the ball in the right spot in this offense you can score 19 every night."
"It was really nice to see a senior have a breakout game like that," said Lions coach Mark LaScala. "He's worked really hard, so it was nice to see it pay off."
While Tincu was the game's standout performer, it was a tour de force for all of the Lions (9-9, 3-2) from opening tip to final buzzer -- something that LaScala had been waiting to see all season.
"This was the first game all year where we maintained our concentration for four quarters," he said. "We've been playing well, but we'd play three quarters of good basketball and one stinker. It was really nice to see our kids put four quarters together."
The Lions' intensity was evident from the get-go as they forced turnovers on Wilmington's first four possessions of the game while Tincu was scoring 7 points and Jay McGrath and Jakub Kowal added a pair of buckets apiece to stake Lisle to a 15-5 lead. A pair of 3-pointers by Garrett Roth helped the Wildcats pull within 19-13 after one quarter, but that was as close as they got.
Lisle opened the second period with 12-0 run, capped by 3-pointers from Tincu and Eli Basnight, for a 31-13 lead as the Wildcats missed five shots and committed three turnovers during the streak. Tincu's free throw gave Lisle a 35-20 lead at halftime, which grew to 50-25 when Jonas Wilke drained a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. Wilmington did not get closer than 19 the rest of the way.
"We've won our last five now, and people were excited to play because we were on a winning streak," Tincu said. "When we come out and play with intensity, because we're so long we can really go after the ball, and then we can play with anybody."