Palatine grinds past Hoffman Estates
Few Mid-Suburban West boys basketball victories come easily. Despite trailing most of the way Friday, Hoffman Estates made Palatine work for its 56-52 victory to the very end.
"Every MSL West game is a grind," Palatine guard Chris Macahon said after leading the Pirates' balanced attack with 14 points. "We tried to pull away, and they wouldn't let us."
That, in a nutshell, is a perfect description of a game that didn't go into the win column for Palatine until a missed 3-point attempt in the final seconds bounced off the rim.
Hoffman led through most of the first quarter, but 3-point shots by Macahon and Matt Ulrich gave Palatine (10-5, 2-2) a 15-11 lead.
The Pirates stretched their lead to as many as 11, 34-23, late in the second quarter before Hoffman's Jorden Thornton banked a 3 at the horn ending the half.
Palatine's Mike Williams came up big in the second quarter with 3 baskets from close range on feeds from Macahon, who drew Williams' defender in the lane.
"Mike's been doing a better job," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "If we can get to the lane, that's a pretty good option."
After a virtual standoff in the third quarter, Hoffman got its offense going in the fourth, led by Thornton, who scored 7 of his game-high 18 points. He finished the game with 4 of 7 from behind the arc. Brandon Hall and Dante Cleveland each scored 4 of their 13 points in the fourth quarter.
"Jorden has matured a lot," Hoffman coach Luke Yanule said. "He's starting to know when it's his time."
The Hawks (5-7, 0-4) converted 8 of 11 from the line in the fourth quarter and closed to 52-50 with 2:12 remaining after Hall made a pair of free throws.
Macahon banked in a shot to make it 54-50 at 1:44, and Williams made 2 of 4 from the line giving Palatine a 56-50 lead.
Cleveland made both free throws with 4.6 seconds left. After a Palatine timeout, Hall stole the inbounds pass, but his 3 wouldn't fall.
"Both teams played real hard," Millstone said. "We had to match their effort."
For the second game in a row, Hoffman came out strong. Cleveland scored 5 first-quarter points, and the Hawks led 10-6 before Palatine grabbed the lead.
"We came out focused," Yanule said. "They made a run, and we responded. We turned a small corner, but we need to turn a big corner.
"Palatine is a pretty skilled team," Yanule said. "It was low scoring. We only shot 15 of 24 from the line, and we failed to contain some of their drivers."
Every Palatine starter contributed to the scoring. Williams finished with 11 points. Ulrich and R.J. Smith each scored 9, and Justin Chaney had 8.