Tight's just right for Palatine
Palatine likes things tight.
The Pirates' narrow 35-33 victory over crosstown rival Fremd in a key Mid-Suburban West boys basketball matchup on Friday was rejuvenating for Palatine.
Their 2-3 zone defense was so condensed that visiting Fremd had trouble maneuvering around the taller Palatine squad. Add in the fact that Fremd was without leading Bryce Hopkins, who sprained his left ankle last Tuesday in practice, putting points at a premium for Fremd.
"I thought we were very active and got our hands on a lot of basketballs," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "We disrupted their rhythm, especially in the first half. And I thought that wa the difference in the game for us."
Johnny O'Shea said the Pirates' defensive play was key to the outcome.
"We emphasize defense, especially in a game in the MSL West," O'Shea said. "Last time we played Fremd, we had trouble scoring against them. They started hitting 3s early, so we pushed our defense out."
Palatine (16-11, 6-3) held Fremd without a field goal for over 10 minutes in the first half. But the Pirates struggled offensively as well and led just 17-12 at the break.
Palatine led 22-19 in the third quarter when the Pirates broke loose behind Julian Campbell and O'Shea. The 6-foot-6 Campbell and O'Shea both scored 4 points as the Pirates went on an 8-1 run to lead 30-20 with 5:13 to play.
"It was just my teammates getting me the ball," said Campbell, who had a career-best 10 points to lead Palatine. "They had confidence in me. I have not been playing well, and we had some film and the coaches have been on me to play harder."
Fremd (15-9, 5-4) found its way to play harder as well. Ryan Martin, who had been pretty quiet up to that point, ran off three consecutive baskets as the Vikings pulled within 30-26 with 3:58 to play.
Palatine appeared to have the game in complete control when O'Shea knocked down a pair of free throws with 49.3 seconds to play to make it 34-27. But thanks to Isaiah Turner, Fremd still had some life left.
Turner, who hit 3 three-pointers in the first half, knocked down another with 25.1 seconds left to make it 34-30. Turner again canned another trey after a pair of missed Fremd free throws with 7 seconds to play to make it 34-33.
Luke Garrett hit 1 of 2 free throws for Palatine with 4.7 seconds left. Fremd failed to get off a tying shot after turning the ball over in the front court with a second to play.
It just added to some uncharacteristic poor play by the Vikings, who shot 2-for-9 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
"It was a crazy last five minutes of the contest," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "I thought we had several opportunities down the stretch that we executed well. We just needed to make a couple more plays to put us over the top."
Both coaches loved the enthusiastic crowd that ventured out on a snowy day where school was cancelled on both sides of town.
"It was a great atmosphere," Widlowski said. "It was fun to play before this crowd."
"It was a big win for us," Millstone said. "You couldn't ask for a better day -- no school, and a good basketball game. At least an exciting basketball game."
Turner led Fremd with 17 points while Martin had 10 points. Lamon Berry had 9 points for Palatine while O'Shea finished with 6.
"It would have been nice to sprint through the finish line," said Millstone, "instead of screeching out of control. But we crossed the finish line first."