Not pretty, but St. Charles North wins again
St. Charles North's basketball team didn't play its best game against St. Joseph Saturday night.
The North Stars committed 8 second-quarter turnovers, gave up a couple 3-pointers over the final 44 seconds, and missed 7 consecutive free throws in the last 1:08.
But they still came out with what mattered most -- a 46-44 nonconference victory over the Chargers (10-11) in St. Charles.
"We were just sloppy tonight," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin. "We made mistakes on both ends and then we didn't close the game out. This will be an educational film (to watch). I'm glad we got a win, but we can play much better -- and we will."
Facing the Chargers' packed-in 2-3 zone defense, the North Stars (16-5) attacked primarily from the perimeter at the outset.
Senior guard Colin Nelson connected on four 3-point baskets in the first quarter, and senior guard Christian Czerniak (13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) added another as the North Stars grabbed a 17-14 lead.
Despite their second-quarter miscues, the North Stars still extended their lead to 22-17 at the half.
Nelson, who scored a game-high 15 points, Czerniak and senior point guard Luke Scheffers (7 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) each added 3-pointers in the third quarter as the North Stars scored 27 of their first 35 points from beyond the arc.
"We made a lot of threes," said Scheffers. "We've got a lot of pieces on this team. We're not just guards and a big guy. We've got shooters, we've got a point guard, we've got a big guy -- we're versatile."
At one point, St. Charles North enjoyed its largest lead of the game at 35-23 with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
However, the Chargers didn't go away, scoring the next 8 points to pull within 35-31 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
"We came off a really tough loss last night to St. Ignatius (65-37) but I thought the kids came back tonight and did a good job," said St. Joseph coach Bill Riley.
Connor Linke, the North Stars' 6-foot-9 senior center, patiently waited for his turn to contribute offensively against the Chargers' twin towers -- 6-10 sophomore Kyle Thomas (10 points, 9 rebounds) and 6-7 Jay Slawinski (10 points).
Linke, who added 13 rebounds and 7 blocked shots, scored 9 of his 11 points in the last 6:46, grabbing a late offensive rebound and splitting a pair of free throws with 5 seconds remaining to give the North Stars a 46-44 lead.
The free throw ended a string of 7 missed foul shots by the North Stars down the stretch.
"As a point guard, I could have done a better job just making sure we were all composed there at the end," said Scheffers, who helped thwart the Chargers' inbound play in the last 1.3 seconds. "I need to do a better job shooting free throws at the end of the game. It's mental. We'll work on it as a team and get better."
"To come out with a win and feel like you weren't at your best is a good thing," said Poulin. "We're fine. We will fix what needs to be fixed."