Winters, Schaumburg Christian freeze out Christian Liberty
Top high school boys basketball talent doesn't always come from the high-profile, larger schools.
Case in point: Schaumburg Christian School's Matt Winters.
Prior to the Conquerors' Thursday night home contest against Christian Liberty Academy, the 6-foot-3 senior guard had averaged 24 points over his team's first 14 games this season.
This included 5 games of 30 points or more. Winters had a 29-point average over 4 games against larger schools in Wheaton Warrenville South's MLK Tournament last weekend, with a 45-point outburst against Rockford Lutheran.
That kind of production will naturally draw the attention of opponents, which probably helps explain why Aurora Christian held him Tuesday night to a season-low 4 points.
Winters realized he had to take a different approach.
"I had to become more of a facilitator," Winters said. "We needed to have more ball movement so we can get more guys involved."
Consider that approach a success as Schaumburg Christian defeated Christian Liberty 67-56 on their Life Center home floor in a Northeastern Athletic Conference contest.
"We like to talk to our team about better spacing on the floor through better ball movement," Schaumburg Christian coach Kyle McVey said. "We struggled a little bit in the first quarter, but we re-explained it to them, and as a result we were able to find the high post which enabled us to kick it out and get some good outside shots."
After the first of Joel Roberts' seven 3s (he finished with a game-high 25 points) had CLA up for the final time at 16-15 in the second period, the home team went on an 11-2 tear to take a 26-18 advantage into halftime. The Conquerors' surge was keyed by 6 of Winters' team-high 21 points, capped off with a coast-to-coast drive.
After a Steve Ringstrand (21 points) hoop closed Christian Liberty (4-13, 2-6) within 6 (28-22) at the 4:25 mark of the third, the Conquerors (3-12, 3-5) went on a game-deciding 14-4 run that had them up 42-28 at quarter's end.
Christian Liberty got no closer than 9 the rest of the way. CLA coach Jed Bennett cited his team's 22 turnovers as a major factor in the outcome.
"What killed us was the second and third quarters where we had most of them (13)," Bennett said. "One second we're down 1, the next second we're down 10 and we couldn't get over the hump."
Also scoring in double-figures for Schaumburg Christian were sophomore Rishe Paridas (13 points), junior Nishal Weems (12) and senior Jon Townsel (11).
Winters took the opportunity to pay homage to the home fans, a group which included many of the players' enthusiastic classmates.
"Great crowd," Winters said. "They brought tremendous energy to us. They helped us play better as a team."
Both squads will take the weekend off, with a return to conference play Tuesday. Schaumburg Christian travels to Elgin to face Harvest Christian, while CLA hosts Mooseheart.