St. Charles North holds on vs. Lake Park
With points hard to come by for both Lake Park and St. Charles North Friday night, senior Christian Czerniak caught fire just in time for the North Stars.
Czerniak scored 8 straight points early in the fourth quarter, giving St. Charles North the breathing room it needed in a 50-46 victory.
After Montrell Perry opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 30, 6-foot-9 senior Connor Linke knocked down a jumper to put the North Stars back up.
Czerniak followed with back-to-back 3s and then a drive through the lane, spinning the ball off the backboard and in for a 40-32 lead.
"When we get it off the glass, push it, throw it ahead, that's when he's at his best," North Stars coach Tom Poulin said. "He plays fine when you call a set as well but he's really good in that transition game. When he's feeling it we try to find ways to get him the ball."
Czerniak scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. Luke Scheffers (12 points, 5 assists) and Linke (10 points, 12 rebounds) also hit double figures.
St. Charles North (18-5, 9-1) remained tied with St. Charles East (18-6, 9-1) for the DuKane Conference lead. The North Stars host the Saints next Friday.
"We know every single game in this conference is most likely going to be a dogfight especially against them (Lake Park)," Czerniak said. "We knew we had to bring our best."
Trailing 19-18 at halftime after a back-and-forth first half, Lake Park (18-6, 6-4) scored the first five points of the second half on Luke Sgarbossa's 3-point play and Perry's basket to take its biggest lead, 23-19.
Linke and Scheffers combined for all 11 of St. Charles North's third quarter points for a 30-27 lead going to the fourth.
Ahead 42-33 with four minutes to go, the North Stars struggled closing the game out. Tevor Montiel swished an open 3, Perry stole the ball and scored on a layup, and Montiel also came up with a steal and made a free throw, cutting the North Stars' lead to 44-41 with :52 remaining.
Czerniak and Colin Nelson converted 4 straight free throws that Perry answered with a couple baskets, keeping the Lancers within 48-45 with 17 seconds left.
Scheffers missed the front end of a 1-and-1 but was able to grab the long rebound and get fouled again. This time he hit a free throw to seal the win.
"I could have done a better job managing the game down the stretch," said Poulin whose team plays at Peoria Notre Dame Saturday. "They are a tough matchup for us. That's the type of game that gets you ready to win a regional championship."
Perry paced the Lancers with 18 points, Montiel totaled 11 points and 7 rebounds, and Sgarbossa also scored 11 points.
"They use their weapons really well, they space the floor really well," Lancers assistant coach Steve Messer said. "I'm proud of our guys. I thought we made it really difficult for them."