Polished Palatine handles Waubonsie Valley
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."
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."