Schaumburg outlasts Meadows in battle of unbeatens
It just wasn't a typical Tuesday crossover in the Mid-Suburban League.
It was early in the season, but it also had the feel of a possible MSL title-game matchup. The crowd was at least double what normally shows up for a midweek game.
There was also an extra air of excitement with many looking for the matchup between highly-touted juniors Max Christie of Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg's Chris Hodges.
Barely anyone went home disappointed as the two Division-I recruits battled head-to-head on both ends of the court, guarding each other for most of the game. Christie would score 31 points, with 7 rebounds and 5 steals, while Hodges would score 24 points with 11 rebounds.
The Schaumburg faithful also went home with an extra portion when the Saxons were able to overcome a 13-point deficit and knock off Meadows 69-65 in a battle of unbeaten teams.
"This was a big game with two really good teams," Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler said. "I thought both teams battled and played hard. And there were two superstars who I thought brought it. If you were a spectator, you got quite a show tonight."
It wasn't just Christie, who helped Rolling Meadows (5-1) take a 36-27 lead at the break. He got help from Jonah Ogunsanya (8 points), Ryan Stubitsch (7 points), Orlando Thomas (5 points) and Cameron Christie (5 points) as the Mustangs were in control through much of the half.
Meadows appeared to be looking to break away when Max Christie's basket with 5:47 left in the third quarter put them up 42-29.
Schaumburg (7-0) began to open up the floor more.
With Meadows focusing on Hodges, the Saxons moved the ball on perimeter. Schaumburg was able to get 3-pointers from Joseph Sturino (5 points) and Arnav Karnik (8 points) as the Saxons ran off 10 unanswered points to close to 42-39.
Vaurice Patterson (12 points) nailed a 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter as the Saxons pulled to within 2 at 49-47. Patterson kept the momentum going, nailing another 3 to open the final period and Shamaree Brown and Hodges added inside baskets and suddenly Schaumburg led 54-49 with 6:17 to play.
"Chris is obviously the focal point," Heisler said. "We really do believe we have a tough all-around team. Everybody competes every day and every possession. That's what we talk about. You can see that toughness on the floor at times."
Max Christie, who helped foul out two of his Saxon defenders, kept the Mustangs close by attacking the basket and getting fouled. He converted 14-of-15 free throws and his 3-point play with 12.3 seconds left had his team down 68-65.
Karnik was then able to convert 1 of 2 free throws with 5.3 seconds left to clinch the win for the Saxons, who also got 6 points from AJ Powell.
"We came out in the first half doing what we wanted to do both offensively and defensively," Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich said. "It then got away from us a little bit."
Both Christie and Hodges, who play on the same AAU team, loved competing against each other.
"It was tons of fun," Hodges, a Wisconsin commit, said. "I made the switch to guard Max and I thought it was the best thing for our team."
Christie, still undecided, thought the game will leave a huge impression on him and his teammates.
"It was a great matchup for both teams," Christie said. "This loss will teach us a lot about ourselves and what we need to do better."