Though he's only a freshman, Rolling Meadows' Max Christie showed Saturday a rather mature ability to bounce back.
Held to just 3 points on Friday in his team's loss to Prospect, Christie erupted for 25 on Saturday to help lead the Mustangs past Maine West 71-51 in Rolling Meadows.
"You just have to move on," Christie said. "You can't really dwell on that because it could affect you today. My teammates supported me last night (Friday) and especially today, so I was able to do my thing."
Rolling Meadows (11-10), which has won 7 of its last 8, avenged a 77-54 loss to Maine West at Thanksgiving. That game, plus Friday's loss to Prospect, was on the minds of Meadows coach Kevin Katovich and his players.
"This was a huge game for us," Katovich said. "Given the fact they beat us pretty good, and last night was a bad game. The guys wanted to respond tonight. It shows you the character of the kids we have."
Ryan Carney, who finished with 17 points, said this game showed a metamorphosis for the Mustangs.
"It felt great," Carney said. "We got spanked before. This shows how much we have improved throughout the season and it is a good measure for where we are at this season."
It was also a big win for Rolling Meadows, which finds itself in the same sectional with Maine West (14-7). Seeds and pairings will be announced in two weeks.
"This was a big win for us," Katovich said. "The guys have a lot of confidence. But they are not overconfident. They know that we still have room to improve."
The game was sloppy at times, as the teams combined for 45 turnovers and 46 fouls. Maine West had three of its players fouls out.
To make matters worse, Maine West was playing without Matt Kentgen, who twisted his ankle in the final 10 seconds of the Warriors' win over Maine East on Friday.
Despite that, Maine West trailed just 33-30 at the half thanks to the Warriors crashing the offensive boards. Maine West had 6 putbacks in the first half to keep them alive.
"Friday night we got killed on the boards and in the first half we got killed on the boards, too," Katovich said. "We made a couple of adjustments and we really challenged our guys at halftime -- and they responded."
Maine West pulled even at 39 with 4:17 left in the third quarter on a 3 by Julian Dones.The Mustangs then ran off 7 unanswered points to charge ahead 46-39 on a basket by Christie with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
Maine West got as close as 48-45 on a 3 by Milos Dugalic early in the fourth quarter. But it was all Meadows from there.
The Mustangs scored the next 6 points on their way to 23-4 run to blow the game wide open.
"This was much different from last night and last time we played them," said Willis Goodwin, who finished with 13 points. "We knew had to grow up and move on. Especially with just a few games left in the season."
Dugalic led Maine West with 18 points while Eli Grimmer had 10 points and 11 rebounds; Darington Bates finished with 8 points.
"We came out fooling ourselves," Maine West coach Tom Prokopij said. "Our guys were standing and watching. We didn't execute a simple press break. We didn't execute, no matter who was on the floor."