St. Charles East stuns North with frantic finish

 
 
Updated 2/4/2022 11:23 PM

Rivalry games can bring out the best in teams.

Even teams that have been struggling throughout the season to win games.

 

St. Charles East (2-19, 1-8) finally climbed that proverbial mountain Friday night, handing crosstown rival St. Charles North (12-12, 7-4) a 53-52 DuKane Conference loss on the North Stars' home court.

As the jubilant East players and coaches headed into the North Stars' weight room following the game, one could sense a weight being lifted from the visitors' side.

"That's some pent-up frustration," Saints coach Patrick Woods said of the raucous sounds emanating from the weight room.

"These guys have been great the whole ride. It's (losing) not something we're accustomed to. It's not fun. But they keep grinding. We made a couple mistakes, but in the end, we just picked each other up."

Senior guard Trent Warren (13 points) knocked down a 3-pointer off a feed from AJ Gaca with 1:14 remaining to put the Saints on top to stay.

"It feels amazing," said Warren, who connected on all three of his 3-points attempts in the final quarter. "The last three years we've been here -- we've lost. This season has been a really big struggle for us. We came out with all that energy with the crowd -- it was amazing. We fought all the way through. I've never seen so much fight out of these guys."

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The frenetic fourth quarter featured 9 lead changes, the first coming when a putback from Steven Call (12 points) put the Saints on top 39-38 with 6 minutes remaining.

After Rahul Gor's back-to-the basket bucket gave the Saints a 41-40 lead with 4:50 left, the teams combined for five 3-pointers over the next 1:17 -- the last coming when senior forward Ethan Marlowe (9 points, 7 rebounds) nailed a 3-pointer from the corner as the North Stars went on top 49-47 with 3:07 remaining.

Jude Love's 3-point play gave the North Stars a 52-47 cushion with 2:15 left, but the Saints answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Gor (game-high 18 points, 11 rebounds) and Warren.

"One of our keys to the game was not making it a 3-point contest because that levels the playing field," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin. "That's exactly what we did."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Down the stretch, both teams wasted golden scoring opportunities, as the Saints misfired on the front end of a 1-and-1 with 10 seconds left.

After the Saints opted to use their sixth foul of the half, the North Stars had one last chance with the ball at half-court and 3.2 seconds remaining.

Following Ned Hayes' (13 points) inbounds pass, the North Stars got the ball into the hands of senior Max Love (14 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists), whose 3-pointer fell short at the buzzer, setting off the Saints' wild celebration.

"We knew it was going to go to Marlowe or Love," said Gor. "One stop was all we needed.

"It feels so good. Before the game, Coach (Woods) told us it was all about pride."

"It was a great battle," said Woods. "It's the moment we needed this season. We haven't had a moment like this season."

Justin Hughes added 8 points for the North Stars, who hit just 5 of their 25 3-point tries.

"Not to take anything away from St. Charles East -- they played harder than we did," said Poulin, "but we made a million mistakes.

"When there's that many mistakes at this point of the season, as a coach, you have to look in the mirror and say, 'what am I doing wrong?' -- and then try to fix it."

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