St. Charles North won a unique game Monday night, beating Rancho Solano, a prep school from Scottsdale, Arizona, 60-48.
That doesn't exactly make the Mustangs losers, however. After all, they are going to get on a plane Tuesday morning and return to sunshine and warm temps, far away from the snow, ice and freezing cold.
"We knew what we were getting into but that's OK," Mustangs coach Aaron Trigg said. "It's good for them to see different parts of the country and that's why we do this. But we'll be happy to get back to the 75 degrees."
The Mustangs (15-4) played two games in Illinois, losing by a point to Peoria Manual on Saturday. North Stars coach Tom Poulin was glad to face a talented team that included Air Force recruit Nikc Jackson.
It didn't look so good for St. Charles North (10-6) early, trailing 20-10 after the first quarter before the North Stars clamped down on defense and outscored Rancho Solano 50-28 over the final three quarters.
"We appreciate the opportunity to go against them, they are a very good basketball team, and I thought we rose to the occasion," Poulin said. "When it was time to win the game we won it."
The Mustangs started strong, making 7 of 14 shots in the first quarter.
The North Stars answered with a 12-2 run to open the second quarter and tie the game at 22. Brendan Dal Degan sparked St. Charles North with back-to-back 3-pointers.
"I hit my first one from the right wing and then coach ran two set plays for me so it was nice to get in the flow," said Dal Degan, who like his coach enjoyed the chance to play the out-of-state opponent.
"Just to get a different feel from a different state was fun and we don't usually play games on a Monday so it was nice," Dal Degan said.
The Mustangs scored the final 6 points of the second quarter to lead 28-22 at halftime. They were still up 30-24 when the North Stars took control of the game in the third quarter.
A turnaround jumper by Lucas Heflen was sandwiched by Erik Larson's pair of 3-pointers to give the North Stars their first lead at 32-30.
Kyle King followed with a conventional 3-point play to make it 35-30, and St. Charles North would not trail again.
After losing a big fourth quarter lead Friday against Larkin, the North Stars executed down the stretch. Leading 45-42 with four minutes to go, Ludwig was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws.
Ludwig drained a 3 on the next possession, and King also nailed one from the corner to make it 54-42.
"That one (Larkin) was really tough, didn't go how we wanted," Dal Degan said. "We learned from it. In this game we had a 9-point lead, they made a quick run and got it to 4 or 5 but this time we stayed composed and handled the ball a lot better down the stretch."
King (17 points), Dal Degan (14), Ludwig (12) and Larson (10) all scored in double figures. The North Stars, after shooting 29 percent (6 for 21) in the first half, upped it to 72 percent in the second (13 for 18).
They also made 10 from 3-point range, many on passes from King who finished with 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
"When we play our best we have multiple people contribute and that means the ball is moving," Poulin said. "We play through Kyle and let him facilitate. They gave us some open 3s and gave us some dives to the hoop and we made some quality decisions."
Jackson's 14 points paced the Mustangs, who after shooting 50 percent in the first quarter went 10 for 38 (26 percent) over the final three.
"They defended us in a way we haven't seen this year to our ballsceen action," Trigg said. "We didn't have a good answer for it.
"We try to take a couple trips every year. A couple of our families are from this area. We were glad to play St. Charles North and play good teams you don't normally get to see."