Schaumburg shakes off pesky Hoffman to stay unbeaten

 
By Howard Schlossberg
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/13/2019 11:38 PM

Schaumburg's boys basketball team knows it's going to get everyone else's best shot.

But the Daily Herald's No. 3-ranked team is ready for it. Take Friday night. The Hoffman Estates Hawks, playing with all the energy they could summon, "completely outplayed us in every aspect of the game," said Schaumburg head coach Wade Heisler.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It wasn't enough. The Saxons remained unbeaten, dominating the boards, hitting their free throws and making key defensive stops when they had to fight off the Hawks, 47-39, at Schaumburg in the second weekend of Mid-Suburban West play.

Trailing at halftime and leading by just 3 early in the fourth when Hoffman's Vastal Pandya hit a twisting layup, Schaumburg turned up the intensity a notch and leaned on its 6-foot-9 junior, Chris Hodges (19 points), for plays at both ends.

His own putback of his own putback made it 34-29. A Vaurice Patterson (10 points) 3-pointer made it 37-29. Hodges' offensive rebound produced a free throw for a 38-29 lead. Hoffman would not get closer than 4 again, after 3-pointers by Pandya and backcourt running mate Levent Sertesen (13 points apiece) and when Patterson hit 3 free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer and John Sturino added two more, it was over.

Hoffman (4-3, 0-2) was hoping it could sneak up on the unbeaten Saxons (7-0, 2-0), but Hodges and Co. wouldn't let it happen despite a scrambling, almost unrecognizable defensive deployment that the Hawks threw at them all game long, all keyed on collapsing around Hodges and daring Schaumburg to shoot 3-pointers. For a while, it worked. While Hodges was still grabbing offensive boards Schaumburg was just 4 of 15 from beyond the arch and didn't break away until their fourth-quarter surge.

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Hodges, for his part, is accustomed to the unorthodox defensive looks.

"We practice for it. We just play hard. We just stay us," said the big junior, who blocked 4 shots.

"We're going to see different looks," said Heisler. "We're prepared for different looks."

But not entirely on Friday.

"I thought we were focused," said Hoffman coach Luke Yanule, whose team lost another close game to another taller, talented MSL West team.

"I'm real proud of the effort. We had a lot of grit and toughness," he said, after watching shorter Nate Fisher, Nahum Smith-Hernandez and off the bench, Adrian Stachura, play fearlessly against a taller, athletic Schaumburg team that got good efforts from Patterson, A.J. Powell and especially Shamaree Brown, who saved the Saxons to open the third quarter when Sertesen and Pandya threatened to shoot Hoffman way ahead.

"We gave ourselves a shot to win," said Yanule.

"It was one of those games," said Heisler, "I'm glad we got out with a victory. Hoffman played really well."

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