Christie returns, scores 40, Meadows storms back to win
Max Christie and Rolling Meadows both emerged from a deep hole Monday.
Christie, who has been sidelined for the last four weeks with a deep bruise, scored 40 points to help the host Mustangs rally from a 25-point deficit to upend Niles West 74-72 in double overtime in a nonconference boys basketball game at Meadows.
"I am feeling great," said Christie, who was cleared to play earlier Monday and not practicing or playing since January 10.
"I was going to ease back into the game. Obviously I felt great. No pain. I was fortunate that Kato (Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich) let me stay in. I was just glad to get back on the court and contribute with all my favorite guys."
Katovich and those guys were glad to have their superstar sophomore back in the lineup. Christie nailed five 3-pointers, had 13 rebounds, 5 blocked shots, 2 assists, a steal and was 15-of-16 from the free-throw line.
Christie was on a "pitch count" according to Katovich, who sat Christie for at least 3 minutes in each of the first four quarters. Christie did play the final 4:17 and all the time in both overtimes.
"We kept him on a limit," Katovich said. "In the second overtime I looked over at his family and asked them 'What do you want me to do here?' They said 'He is good'. But if we went to a third overtime I would have shut him down."
Christie made sure that didn't happen. With his team trailing 67-64, he converted all 8 of his free throws as the Mustangs pulled ahead 72-67 with 35 seconds to play. After a 3-pointer by Niles West (9-15) made it 72-70, Javonte Warrener knocked down a pair of free throws with 7.5 seconds left to make it 74-70. All the Wolves could get a rebound basket at the buzzer.
"That was a phenomenal game except for the beginning," Katovich said. "It is the second time in the last three games that we trailed 18-2. We have to figure that out first. But what a great effort by our guys."
Rolling Meadows surrendered a pair of 12-0 runs by Niles West as the Mustangs trailed 36-11 with 3:50 left in the first half.
"Our seniors and Max took the leadership role just before halftime," Katovich said. "They kind of huddled up and got after them."
Christie, along with some hot outside shooting by Danny Fallon (8 points), had the Mustangs trailing 38-22 at the half.
Then a stern conversation by Katovich at the half did the trick. The Mustangs (12-9) turned up the defensive pressure, forcing 13 turnovers in the second half which enabled them to slowly climb back into the game.
"We just tried to come out in the second half and do what we could do," said Warrener, who would finish with 13 points. "We always take pride in our defense. We knew we gave them too many easy looks, open shots and rebounds. In the second half, we just tried to limit that."
The Mustangs still trailed 50-39 in the fourth quarter when Christie re-entered the game after his final rest. He either scored or assisted on 15 of the final 19 Mustang points as they rallied to go into overtime tied at 58.
In the first overtime, Niles West's Adnan Seferovic scored with 3 seconds left to send the game into the second overtime tied at 64.
"It was a great comeback win and a great team effort," Christie said. "It was especially good on Senior Night. They stepped up and led us."