With injured starting point guard Drake Montgomery missing from the lineup Friday, senior David Binion continued to find his new role with the South Elgin boys basketball team.
From the outset the 6-foot-4 Binion was an outside scoring force and finished with 18 points and two 3-pointers in the Storm's 74-48 Upstate Eight Valley victory at West Chicago.
"Before I used to play in the post, but now I'm more of a wing. Now I'm able to facilitate a lot more. I'm able to score more and dish it to my teammates," Binion said.
"I think once (Montgomery) gets back, we'll all contribute and we'll be even better."
Vince Miszkiewicz, a 6-6 senior center, dominated inside for the Storm (13-6, 3-2) with 19 points and 18 rebounds even with hardly playing in the fourth quarter. Senior Noah Rohr had 9 points on three 3s and junior Jace Warrick 8 points on two 3s.
Jason Gimre, the lone senior starter for West Chicago (6-12, 0-5), had 16 points and junior Sam Ricci 14.
Three huge South Elgin runs defined the game and made the final score deceptive. The last was an 8-0 run after Gimre opened the third quarter with 6 unanswered points and cut the Wildcats' deficit to 35-29.
In all the Storm scored on 10 of its next 12 possessions and was comfortably in front 58-34 entering the fourth quarter.
"I called time out (at 35-29). I think that got that mojo going again," South Elgin coach Brett Johnson said. "You've just got to play hard and can't take anything for granted because Jason Gimre can really shoot."
The result was similar to South Elgin's 79-57 victory over the Wildcats Dec. 30 for fifth place at DeKalb's Chuck Dayton Classic. In that game Montgomery had 21 points and 9 rebounds and Miszkiewicz 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Binion had 4. On Friday he had 8 of South Elgin's first 15 points en route to a 17-4 lead.
"It was good to see him play the way he did," Johnson said. "He shot the ball well, was aggressive. That's the David Binion we've been looking for. I had told myself I think this is going to be his opportunity tonight."
"In DeKalb I didn't take as many shots. I think I was still trying to find my groove, where I could fit in and benefit the team," Binion said. "Here, I know my role. I know what I can do, what I can't do."
West Chicago closed to 26-20 after four straight baskets from Ricci, a 3 and three driving scores. South Elgin switched from a man-to-man to 1-3-1 zone defense and pulled ahead 35-23 by halftime even with Jordan Williams' buzzer-beating 3 for the Wildcats.
"The goal of the second half was to force them to call the first timeout. We did. And then they hit that 3 and the momentum went right back in their hands," West Chicago coach Bill Recchia said.
"We played well in spurts, but we weren't able to maintain that level. You cannot doubt the heart and the effort of this group. We're young. It's going to wind up in good results. We haven't been able to string together a long stretch of high-level play yet, but we're getting there."
A boys cross country standout, Warrick nailed a 3 off a pass by Kyle Sy seven seconds after the South Elgin timeout at 35-29 to begin the clinching run. It began a streak of three baskets apiece by Warrick and Miszkiewicz.
"That's one of our most common inbounds plays and we all knew we could get a bucket off it," Warrick said. "We kind of worked the ball around in that stretch and it opened a lot of driving lanes and kicking out for some easy shots."
Miszkiewicz made his last six shots, including a highlight-worthy behind-the back dunk for a 46-30 lead. Binion's second-quarter dunk came in transition following Miszkiewicz blocking a 3-point attempt.
South Elgin led 42-17 in rebounds and 14-2 in putback points, 8 by Miszkiewicz.
"He was all over the boards," Johnson said. "It's like he wanted every single rebound. If that's the way he wants to play night in and night out, that's a good thing."
Johnson said Montgomery was held out as a precaution after rolling his ankle in Monday's loss at Rockford Jefferson. Montgomery is expected to return for the next game at home Jan. 26 against Bartlett (9-9, 2-3).