Hodges, Schaumburg take MSL West title from Palatine
When championships are on the line, big-time players play big.
That's just what Schaumburg's Chris Hodges did Friday.
With points at a premium, Hodges was able to break through. He scored 17 points, had 7 rebounds and 4 blocks as he led the host Saxons to a 35-21 win over Palatine in a winner-take-all game for the Mid-Suburban West boys basketball title.
"I was just focusing in at practice," Hodges said. "I knew this was a big game. I was just really preparing both offensively and defensively for our team. Everything matters in a game like this when a lot is on the line."
The win gave Schaumburg (24-6, 8-2) the MSL West title outright. The Saxons will host Buffalo Grove, the winner of the MSL East, in the MSL title game Wednesday at 7 p.m.
"It is very exciting," Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler said. "The tradition of the program, when you are trying to get it to that level, and every year you feel it creeping that way, it is a dream come true."
Heisler said that his team's defensive effort was the key to the game.
"It was a great defensive effort by us," Heisler said. "Once we settled in, we kind of locked into our assignments. We just really battled."
It was Palatine's Luke Seiffert that did the battling early, scoring his team's first 10 points. Seiffert, who would finish with 14 points, knocked down his first four shots, two of which came from outside the arc, as the Pirates took an early 10-3 lead.
Disaster and the Schaumburg defense then collided with Palatine (18-12, 7-3).
The Pirates converted 4-of-5 to begin the game. They closed out the contest converting just 25 percent (5-of-25) from the field while turning the ball over 12 times during that span.
"We had a slow start in the first quarter," Schaumburg's Jared Schoo said. "We really turned up the defensive intensity and started getting rebounds, it started going our way. This was our best defensive effort. Our goal is to hold a team to eight points per quarter. We did way better than that."
Palatine scored just 6 points in the second half and was blanked in the final quarter.
"It was a bizarre game," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "We scored just six points in the second half. You are not going to win championships scoring six in the half. A lot of credit goes to them. I thought they were the more physical and tougher team tonight."
That toughness started with Hodges, who showed why Wisconsin was quick to offer him a scholarship that he verbally accepted.
Hodges had 13 of his team's 17 points in the first half, drilling a pair of 3-pointers in the process. He also dropped a couple of other short jumpers as Schaumburg pulled away late in the third quarter.
Hodges was also a huge force on the defensive end as he smothered Palatine's Julian Campbell, holding him to just 2 points.
"I have been expanding my game," Hodges said. "I wanted to let you guys see a little bit of it. Again, whatever the team needs, I am going to give it to them."