Christie, Meadows get past Wheeling
Max Christie came up with another huge effort. But so did the rest of the Rolling Meadows squad.
Christie scored 32 points, had 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 2 assists. He also spent nearly 6 minutes on the bench in foul trouble which could have spelled doom for the Mustangs.
The rest of the Mustangs stepped up and didn't allow that to happen.
Playing without their sophomore superstar at times, Rolling Meadows found the right combinations to hold off a scrappy Wheeling team 69-61 Friday night in Mid-Suburban League East boys basketball action in Rolling Meadows.
Christie, who was breaking the Wheeling box-and-one defense by scoring 16 points in the game's first 11 minutes, went to the bench with 2 fouls and his team leading just 19-17. Not only did the Mustangs (7-3, 3-1) hold onto the lead, they extended it to 30-24 at the break.
"That has been a process to find other guys besides Max," said Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich, who gave credit to Javonte Warrener, Matt Schoeslling, Jace O'Hara, Sean Nolan, Daniel Sobkowicz and Brandon Zuniga.
"I am incredibly proud of the whole team. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys, even some guys who were not part of the scouting report of other teams."
Wheeling (3-7, 1-2) stayed close thanks to the play of Michael Best (14 points) and Brandon Zettek (11 points). The Wildcats closed to 42-40 after three quarters.
Meadows then applied the pressure with Christie and Javonte Warrener leading the way.
Leading 44-42, the Mustangs forced 3 consecutive turnovers and score 6 unanswered points to begin to pull away.
Christie, who was being scouted by Ohio State, began the run by rebounding his own miss and crashing down a thunderous dunk that brought the Meadows faithful to their feet. He then stole the inbounds pass and took it in for a layup, Warrener followed with a steal and a layup and the Mustangs were on their way.
"We take pride in our defense," said Warrener, who had 21 points and 5 steals and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"I just want to be confident with my shots. With all the attention Max gets, I get good looks off him."
After Wheeling pulled to within 50-46, the Mustangs rattled off 8 straight points to make it 58-46 with 3:40 to play. Wheeling never got closer than 6 from there.
"That was our best defensive quarter of the year," Katovich said. "We really got after it. We have been working on it and it has been a process. I was happy to see that."
Christie was proud that it just wasn't his points that helped pave the way.
"Obviously you just can't score," said Christie. "I am a good scorer I feel. But I have to do other things to get into the game. So I am just trying to get steals, assists, rebounds, whatever that I can do."
Wheeling coach Michael O'Keeffe said the fourth quarter has been difficult for his team.
"Part of that is on me," O'Keeffe said. "I like to ride and die with our first five. I think that a big part of our struggles is that we just get a little tired. We give up those six or eight-point runs within 45 seconds or a minute and we just shoot ourselves in the foot."