Crystal Lake South's fast start does in Johnsburg
Crystal Lake South welcomed facing Johnsburg's style of constant pressure defense and fast pace.
The Gators' boys basketball team handled the pressure well early and jumped out to a huge lead on their way to an 84-52 victory in Pool IV of Jacobs' Hinkle Holiday Classic Wednesday at the Eagles' Nest.
"That's the kind of pace we're trying to play every single game," said South forward Isaiah Kirkeeng, who scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. "We had good energy in our warmups and that translated into a good start. We executed and that pace was what we wanted to do."
South (8-4, 1-1 Pool IV) meets Larkin at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for a chance to reach the championship bracket.
The Gators bolted out to a 26-5 lead 6 minutes into the game with Cooper LePage hitting two 3-pointers. LePage led all players with 21 points and five 3s.
Johnsburg (5-7, 0-2) uses full-court zone pressure and drops back into a 2-3 zone. South was able to find open shots inside and outside.
"We did pretty good. We started out really strong and kind of slowed down, but we handled it pretty good," Gators forward Cameron Miller said. "We were getting it in the middle and it was pretty much a 3-on-2 from there. We wanted to find the middle and look out from there. Penetrate inside, they look out."
Arnav Jain scored 11 points, Miller added 11 and freshman A.J. Demirov came off the bench for 14 points.
"They want to play fast. We want to play with good pace as well," Gators coach Matt LePage said. "Our goal is to get 3-on-2s, the 4-on-3s, break the press and just go play, not set up a lot.
"We did a good job, we ended up with 23 assists. You don't see a lot of styles like that in the Fox Valley (Conference). We're not at the speed they are, but we want to get up and down too. It fits the way we want to play."
Dylan Schmidt led the Skyhawks with 13 points, while Ian Boal and Joe Wolff each added 11, both with three 3s.
Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint was disappointed in his team's 28 turnovers.
"To me, that was the game," Toussaint said. "With what we do, we're supposed to get more possessions than everybody else trying to turn other people over. That's not how it's going for us, so if it's not going that way, we're going to struggle.
"We ran some half-court sets good, we didn't shoot horribly. They got way more possessions than we did. We played with them for three quarters, but the first 4 minutes of the game. We turned the ball over way too much."
South will face a team in Larkin which is considered one of the tournament favorites.
"Larkin's a good team. They play similar pace to us," Kirkeeng said. "If we take the good things we did today into tomorrow we'll be in good shape. Our guys are ready, we want to battle tomorrow and get a win."