Polished Palatine handles Waubonsie Valley

By Larry Weindruch
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/24/2014 11:30 PM

In season-opening basketball games, a year or two of varsity experience can make all the difference.

Palatine took full advance of its experience against a young Waubonsie Valley team in Monday's opening round of the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic on the Pirates home court.


Palatine applied a relentless pressing defense that created 17 turnovers and overcame a 7-0 early deficit to put the season opener in the win column, 60-47. Waubonsie Valley plays York in the second round at 7:45 tonight, while Palatine plays again Wednesday at 7:45 against Chicago's Richards Career Academy.

"There was no sense of panic," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said when his team fell behind 7-0 at the 5:20 mark of the first quarter. Four of the five starters were seniors, and the fifth, junior Matt Ulrich, played varsity as a sophomore.

The Pirates cut the deficit to 17-12 after the first quarter thanks to the sharp shooting of Justin Chaney, who scored 8 of his 16 in the quarter.

Third-year starter Chris Macahon found his shooting touch in the second quarter. The 6-1 senior scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the quarter, including a 3 at the buzzer to give Palatine a 27-25 halftime lead.

"That's what you get with a group that's been through it before," Millstone said.

"Chris is willing to take the team and put it on his back," Millstone said. "When he plays well, we play well."

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Senior Logan Yanisch scored 7 of his team-best 11 points in the first half for Waubonsie.

The second half was a continuation of the momentum that Palatine had grabbed late in the first half. Macahon scored 8 points in the quarter, and R.J. Smith added 5 of his 7 to help the Pirates to a 45-38 lead after three.

Palatine created some breathing room with an 11-0 run that turned a 40-38 lead into a 51-38 edge in a span of slightly more than 4 minutes late in the third quarter and into the fourth.

That's when the pressure defense took its toll on the young Warriors, with 3 sophomores and 3 juniors with little varsity experience among the 9 players used by coach Chaz Taft.

"Their full-court pressure got to us," Taft said. "Their pressure got us out of our comfort zone."

"We put in a new press, and we'll trap after the first pass or the second pass," Macahon said. "We can get some easy points off turnovers."


Jovone Stricker scored 7 of his 9 points in the fourth quarter, and Chaney added 4 to keep the Warriors at bay down the stretch.

Senior Chris Karkazis scored 10 points for the Warriors, sophomore Brian Phillips scored 9, and junior Jack Connolly added 6 on a pair of 3-pointers.

"We had some positive things tonight," Taft said. "The sophomores and juniors with no varsity experience played hard. There are some minor things to fix for our game against York."

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