Crystal Lake South shakes off slow start, beats Huntley for Johnsburg crown
There wasn't the least bit of panic.
With Huntley making 4-of-5 from 3-point range, the Red Raiders opened up a 16-4 advantage with 2 minutes left in the first quarter.
The last 26 minutes belonged to Crystal Lake South.
The Gators outscored the Red Raiders 49-33 to rally for a 53-49 win to claim the championship of the Johnsburg Thanksgiving Invitational on Friday afternoon.
South (4-0) overcame adversity to win the title. The Gators played over three quarters without starting guard Zachary Peltz, and returning starter Brady Schroeder is possibly sidelined another week.
"We have a veteran group and they fought back," said Gators coach Matt LePage. "There was no panic. We guarded the 3 better after the first quarter. We beat some good teams in this tournament. It is good to be 4-0."
With two 3-pointers from Ethan Blackmore and one each from Lucas Crosby and Ty Goodrich, the Red Raiders (3-1) led by 12 in the first quarter.
The Gators, led by 7 points from Cooper LePage, ended the first quarter on a 9-1 run and sliced the Raiders' lead to 17-13 after 8 minutes.
"They outplayed us the last three quarters," said Huntley coach Will Benson. "They defended the 3 better and they made us earn every basket. They have great athletes. The effort was there. South just beat us."
With South leading 36-33 after three quarters, the Gators scored the first 5 points of the fourth quarter on a 3 by Anthony Demirov and a driving layup from LePage. The Gators led 41-33 with 5:52 left in the game.
The Red Raiders responded with a 5-0 run to cut the South advantage to 41-38 but couldn't get any closer.
Cooper LePage paced the champions with 23 points which included two 3-pointers.
"It is awesome to win this tournament and start the season 4-0," said Cooper LePage. "We didn't panic when Huntley got off to a lead early. Huntley is a very good team. We faced adversity with Schroeder (Brady) and Peltz (Zachary) out."
Demirov added 15 points and Cameron Miller 11 for the winners.
Huntley, which made only 3-of-10 from 3-point range the last three quarters, was led by 14 points from Goodrich and 10 each by Crosby and Blackmore.
Johnsburg too third place in the tournament with a 67-60 win over Wauconda. Geneva finished fifth by beating Grayslake North 67-33.