Wearing a white T-shirt with letters on the sleeves under his Carmel Catholic basketball jersey, Johnny Roeser hustled onto Lake Zurich's court Monday morning. Visible graphics on an undershirt are an IHSA uniform violation, mind you.
So the sophomore went shirtless.
"It was awkward at first because I wasn't used to it," Roeser said. "But I just shook it off."
Roeser's "wardrobe malfunctions" weren't over. During the first quarter against Maine East, his shoelace came untied.
That's not exactly what you'd call dressed for success.
All Corsairs coach Zack Ryan could do was shake his head -- and briefly bench his rising star.
"He wasn't really playing well so I took him out," Ryan said. "I said, 'Let's go, man. Step it up.' He's good about it when I need to get on him, which this year I haven't as much because he's not a freshman anymore so his effort and attitude are always good."
Roeser's play is always good too. Monday morning was no exception. The 6-foot-5 sophomore finished with a game-high 19 points, all in the final three quarters, as Carmel rallied to beat Maine East 49-40. The win earned the Corsairs a game against Mundelein later in the day.
Carmel trailed by 9 points in three occasions in the first half. When the Corsairs ended the first quarter down 12-5, Ryan threatened to make mass substitutions if his players didn't pick up their effort.
"It's a 10:30 (a.m.) game -- not that that's an excuse," Ryan said. "We had to find ways to get energy early."
Roeser provided a spark, after starting the second quarter on the bench. He finished the first half with an offensive-rebound basket to get Carmel within 28-23. He sank a 3-pointer in the third, and his baseline jumper in the closing seconds tied the score at 38-38 entering the fourth.
"I was mad with how I was playing at first because everyone feeds off what I do now," Roeser said. "I came out slow, so everyone came out slow. I said to myself, 'If I'm not scoring a lot, I have to provide defense and a spark and that'll get our team going.' That's what I did."
Maine East scored only 2 points in fourth quarter, when Ali Sabet finished a drive with 2:54 left to pull the Blue Demons with 44-40. But Evan Myers answered with his third 3-pointer, and Roeser scored on a reverse layup to finish the scoring.
"We defended a lot better," Ryan said. "Our intensity picked up. It wasn't anything systematically. We got rebounds so we could get out on the fastbreak and score a little bit, rather than going slow against their zone."
Carmel got 9 points each from Myers, Brian Julien and Jalen Snell (12 rebounds), who scored the Corsairs' first 4 points of the fourth.
Maine East's Dariusz Jozwiak had 18 points, including four 3-pointers.