Maine West basically started in a 20-point hole with senior Conor Hart sidelined with a knee injury for Friday night's Central Suburban North boys basketball game at Glenbrook North.
Hart's absence was exacerbated by 9 turnovers that led to the Spartans scoring 18 of the first 21 points. They cruised from there to a 61-42 victory to clinch a share of their 11th straight CSL North crown in Northbrook.
"We weren't mentally strong enough to just switch gears," Maine West coach Erik McNeill said of playing without Hart, who averages 19.4 points a game. "When you turn over the ball (21) times you aren't going to beat anybody.
"We thought we could compete and keep it close and maybe have some fun in the fourth quarter. But we came out and their pressure just got to us."
Hart, a Daily Herald All-Area pick last year, injured his left knee late in Tuesday's loss to Leyden. McNeill found out Friday morning the Warriors (12-12, 5-4) would be without Hart after X-rays showed possible damage which will require an MRI today.
Maine West had as many turnovers and shots from the field as points at halftime as the Spartans (17-5, 7-2) led 30-14.
"He's a big part of our offense and he drives and kicks and makes it easy for everyone," said Maine West senior guard Kevin Garcia, who had a team-high 11 points and hit three 3-pointers. "It's a big loss.
"We just had to run our offense and execute but we had a lot of turnovers and we were careless with the ball. Their defense rattled us and made us do things we normally don't do."
Junior guard Kurt Karis also had 14 of his game-high 21 points and three 3-pointers at halftime for the Spartans, who travel to Gurnee to face Warren tonight.
Adam Chick and Mark Johnson scored 8 points apiece and 6-foot-8 junior Andrew McAuliffe had 6 points and 8 rebounds in his third game of the season after suffering a right knee injury.
"They were struggling without Hart, there's no question about that," said Glenbrook North coach Dave Weber. "We've been through it where we lost our best guy for a long time.
"Our pressure hurt them and they really didn't have anywhere to go offensively."
Trevor Ponticelli limited Garcia to 3 points in the second half as the Spartans built their largest lead at 59-31. The Warriors shot just 35.9 percent from the field (14-for-39) and were outrebounded 28-21.
Garcia, the Warriors' No. 2 scorer at 12 points a game , believes the Warriors can get back on track even if Hart is unable to come back. Garcia pointed to how they executed for their first points when Will Hepburn found Tom Kukec on a backcut for a 3-point play.
"We'll be fine," said Garcia, who has hit 50 3s this season. "Everyone will have to put in more effort in practice and go harder. We just have to run our plays."
Maine West High School
Glenbrook North High School
Conference: Central Suburban North
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