Dundee-Crown boys basketball coach Lance Huber couldn't have asked for a better night out of forward Brad Stec Friday.
Huber labeled Stec's 20-point, 14-rebound effort during a 55-46 Fox Valley Conference home win over Crystal Lake South as the junior's best performance all season. The 6'5" Stec dominated the paint on both ends and hit timely shots that paced D-C to its second 3-game winning streak and a season split with the Gators.
"He was amazing," said Huber, who watched the junior grab 6 offensive rebounds, 4 of which turned into 8 second chance points. "He's just steady and does what you ask of him. He goes up with two hands and gets it, finishes around the basket and nothing much rattles him and he put it all together tonight. It was nice to see."
CL South (8-13, 4-6) had no answer for Stec's size and post seals, let alone the clutch buckets he provided throughout. When South jumped out to a 5-point first quarter lead, Stec's jumper with 1:50 left began a quick 5-0 run to end the quarter which allowed D-C to carry momentum into the second.
Just before halftime, Stec's putback wedged between 2 Jack Orndahl threes helped D-C end the half on a 10-1 run for a 9-point lead at intermission. Stec's layup off Jack Michalski's lob pass in the fourth thanks to nice hi-low action gave D-C a 41-37 lead with 5:20 and a putback with 2:15 remaining put South down for good down 9.
"They were going on runs and I felt like those shots really gave our team a boost and got the bench going," said Stec. "The second half we were getting wide open layups and jump shots and that really helped."
Orndahl (2 steals) provided some flare from the perimeter, as his 10 points included a buzzer-beating corner 3 to end the half. Josh Raby (5 rebounds) also was a big spark off the bench in the fourth quarter, scoring his 8 points in the final 5 minutes.
Raby drilled an open 3 in the right corner to help D-C go up 44-37 with 4:40 left. The 6'5" junior also took a charge, hit 2 free throws and cashed in an old-fashioned 3-point play with 3:08 left in the fourth. It was all a premium for D-C as scoring isn't really his job off the bench.
" I come in for Gabe and Brad to give them a breather and I try to pick it up defensively and on the boards," Raby said. "When I'm open I'm going to let it fly but my main role isn't to score it's to get others open."
D-C let it fly for a 51.2 percent clip on 41 shot attempts and outrebounded the Gators 35-18, which offset 21 turnovers. South, who saw its losing skid mount to 4, shot an icy 25 percent on the 52 shots it hoisted up. Jack Murphy's 16 points on 4 threes provided the Gators instant offense off the bench while Ben Geske had 11 on 2 threes.
South almost took the lead after D-C was hit with a technical with 7:26 left that gave the Gators 3 free throws and an extra possession. Kyle Leva scored to cut D-C lead to 4 and Blake Kuffel connected on a 3 with 6:05 left to make it 31-30. But that's as close as South got as a D-C steal and layup plus an Orndahl corner 3 ended the threat.
"I thought were in a good place there in the third quarter, I thought we settled down a bit," Gators coach Matt LePage said. "But they crushed inside during the fourth quarter, five field goals in the paint to our one in the fourth quarter. They got loose on the glass, all those 50-50 balls, they got more than we did, especially in the second half."