WW South tops Lake Park in battle of DuKane unbeatens
Tyler Fawcett started off strong and finished strong on Saturday night.
In between, from the middle of the first quarter to the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Fawcett struggled to find the bottom of the net.
But Fawcett made his points count, sparking Wheaton Warrenville South to a grind-it-out 40-28 win over Lake Park in DuKane Conference action in Roselle.
Fawcett buried two 3-pointers in the first two minutes, added a basket midway in the second quarter and then did not score until a five-point flurry late in the fourth that iced the victory for the Tigers (15-1, 6-0).
Fawcett, a senior forward with a pristine shot, knocked down a pair of three-pointers to tally a game-high 13 points. Braylen Meredith had nine points and Matt Sommerdyke collected eight points in a typical collective effort that's come to define the Tigers' success this season.
"At the start, I was feeling it a bit and got a couple of quick buckets, but then my shot wasn't falling down through the middle of the game," Fawcett said. "It just came down to hitting two shots at the end. I'm glad that I didn't stop shooting and believed in myself. My shots just ended up falling at the end."
On a night when the roads were icy and made driving conditions difficult, the Tigers and Lancers (12-3, 4-1) hooked up for a matchup of DuKane leaders only an old-school purist would cherish. With scoring at a premium due to the rugged defense by both teams, the Tigers were able to pull off a key conference road win by relying on Fawcett to come up big in key situations and by forcing 15 turnovers in a fight-for-every-point type game.
"Lake Park plays so hard, and we talked to our team how we had to match it," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Mike Healy said. "It was kind of a draw. Our guys made enough plays. We're happy to get a win at Lake Park. They don't get too caught up in statistics and just want to make plays. It was a good week. It wasn't perfect tonight by any means. It was kind of ugly, but we're happy to get out of here with a win."
The Tigers made the Lancers earn every point, allowing just 12 points in the first half to seize a 17-12 lead. The Lancers managed to cut the deficit to 31-28 with just over three minutes remaining in regulation, but Fawcett answered with a 3-pointer from the corner at the 2:20 mark. The Lancers failed to score in their final four possessions. Senior point guard Vito LaGioia paced the Lancers with nine points while Sebastian Blachut chipped in with eight points.
"They executed better than us," Lake Park coach Billy Pitcher said. "We had too many turnovers to be able to win a game. Our mistakes tonight weren't physical, just mental. I'm proud of how hard our guys fought. It was a one-possession game until Fawcett hit that three-pointer from the corner. We had a breakdown on that defensively. Fawcett is tough to guard, can stick that three and is a big, strong kid. He's the strongest, most athletic kid on the floor. He rebounds and finishes inside and is a really solid high school basketball player and a tough matchup for us."
Meanwhile, behind Fawcett's late surge, the Tigers scored nine points in the final 2:20 of regulation.
"It was definitely a tough game," Fawcett said. "They play hard, a lot of 50-50 balls that needed to be got. We made some plays down the stretch. It was definitely a grind, and took a lot out of us. We work really hard in practice and prepare for moments like this. We love people looking at us as the underdog. That's part of our M.O. as a team. We've proven ourselves and play better with a chip on our shoulder and pushes us in games."