Tuesday's 62-48 Metea Valley boys basketball victory over Bartlett at the Wheaton Academy Thanksgiving Tournament was a study in making the right adjustment at the right time.
The Mustangs (1-1) led just 49-45 with 5:23 left in the game. But a switch in defense helped spark a 13-3 run that put the victory in their corner.
"We went to a 1-3-1 and that helped. They were missing shots on 50-50 balls and we were able to take advantage," said Metea coach Matt Walpole.
Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said all was well for the Hawks (1-1) until that point.
"It was a good game until the fourth quarter. All of a sudden, they are getting multiple possessions and scoring. We're getting multiple possessions and we missed layups. They had big guys in the zone and if you are not hitting your shots, it's tough to get looks in the zone," he said.
Three players hit net during that late Metea surge. Ethan Helwig scored 8 of his game-high 15 points during the span, including two 3-point baskets. Brad Hartje, who with Cory Adams each scored 11 points, converted on a three-point play and Manny Hess converted a putback. Hess grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
"I think our all-around play was key. We rallied together and became like one," Helwig said. "The team picks up a player if he is having trouble and that player does the same thing for other players."
The game started like the scorekeeper would need additional pages to get all the numbers recorded. The contest was tied at 14 and then each team's offense really got going in the second quarter. The Mustangs shot 8 of 13 from the field while the Hawks hit for 50 percent and Metea led just 34-31 at halftime.
The third quarter saw both teams' scoring cool with Metea still somewhat warm with a 13-point performance on 5-of-9 shooting. Bartlett though just churned out 8 points on 3-of-13 shooting. The Mustangs led 47-39 at the end of 24 minutes.
"The coaches told us to get in front of our man and to stop them from getting to the rim. We were executing our sets and when we do that we keep the ball moving and find the open man," Hartje said.
Senior Ben Tompson led Bartlett with 15 points, including 6 of the Hawks' 9 points in the final quarter. Teammate Austin Gates scored 9 of his 10 points in the Hawks' big second quarter.
"We expect our seniors to step up and Ben did that tonight and last night (51-47 tournament opening win over St. Francis)," Wolfsmith said.