Palatine goes inside to top Hoffman Estates
Connor May and Palatine put their heads went right into the Lions' mouth Friday in Hoffman Estates.
The Pirates went inside right at Hoffman Estates. The Pirates were then able to exit with a strong 58-43 win over the Hawks in the MSL West opener for both teams.
"We have some kids who can stretch a defense," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "But that will only get you so far. You have to be able to score inside. I thought we did a good job of being aggressive and getting two feet into the lane and playing off that."
"It felt good," said May, who finished with 21 points. "The ball was going in for me. Kudos to my teammates. They found me when I was open. I got rolling in the first half."
May hit 5-of-9 shots in the first half, with four of those baskets coming inside. That enabled the Pirates (4-1, 1-0) to take a 29-23 lead at the half.
With the inside game working well, the Pirates continued their onslaught in the third quarter when they converted 7-of-10 shots.
Hoffman (4-1, 0-1) had closed to 34-29 with 3:45 left in the third quarter on a rebound basket by Adell Bosnak (8 points).
Led by May, Eric Millstone and Tyler Swierczek, Palatine scored nine unanswered points to lead 43-34.
May and his teammates took the ball right at Hoffman big man DJ Wallace. The 6-foot-9 Wallace, who is not only a terrific scorer, but a tremendous shot blocker, struggled along with his Hawks teammates on keeping Palatine from getting to the basket early.
Hoffman was forced to put DJ Wallace, who was saddled with foul trouble due to Hoffman's earlier inside play, back into the game in an attempt to rally before a boisterous Hoffman crowd. After a missed shot, Wallace grabbed the offensive rebound and went to the basket. But May was there, drawing a charge and ending the Hoffman comeback.
"DJ Wallace is a great player," said May, who finished with 21 points. "We tried to get him in foul trouble. We also worked on charges all week."
Sam Millstone finished with 13 points while Swierczek had 11 points, all in the second half. Quinn Golletz had seven points while Tommy Elter chipped in six points for Palatine which was 11-for-12 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and 17-of-19 for the game.
"In last week's Thanksgiving tournament we didn't shoot as well," Sam Millstone said. "So we stressed getting into the lane. Hoffman is athletic and they are long and we just had to play disciplined in the inside."
Hoffman which not only struggled from the free-throw line shooting 6-of-15, was led by Nate Cleveland, who had 12 points. Wallace was able to score nine points in his limited time due to foul trouble.
"Foul trouble hurt us in the second half," Hoffman Estate coach Peter McBride said. "That paired with a tough night at the free-throw line made it tough for us."