Hot-shooting Prairie Ridge knocks off Crystal Lake South
Prairie Ridge sophomore Ben Gablenz appreciated the support of his teammates during a key third-quarter stretch against Crystal Lake South.
The Wolves may have appreciated Gablenz's contributions -- 11 points in 3:30 -- even more.
"Ben is a heck of a player and that was a great spark," Prairie Ridge forward Samuel Loeding said. "That was the spark we needed to just take us through that game, right there."
Gablenz set the tone for the second half with three 3-pointers in the third quarter. The Wolves hit eight 3s in the second half and pulled away for a 66-53 victory in their Fox Valley Conference boys basketball Friday night at The Swamp.
"I was really feeling my shot," said Gablenz, who scored 13 points. "My teammates made great drive-and-kicks, really good passes right in my pocket. When you get a pass like that, right in your pocket, it comes natural for me."
Gablenz's first 3, with 3:30 to go in the third, gave Prairie Ridge (10-12, 6-6 FVC) a 36-33 lead it never relinquished. His third 3 made it 46-39 at the end of the quarter.
South (17-7, 8-4) cut it to 49-45 midway through the fourth quarters, but Loeding hit two 3s and Cade Collins and John Fuery each hit one as Prairie Ridge closed it out.
Prairie Ridge jumped out to a 16-4 lead after one quarter, but South hit seven 3s in the second and led 27-26 at halftime.
"We just reminded the kids that basketball's a game of runs," Wolves coach Ryan Smith said. "We had a real good run in the first quarter, which, on the road is fantastic. South's talented and they can get hot real quick and they did the same thing in the second quarter.
"It's a wash, trying to win the next 16. Being on the road in an atmosphere like this we'll take a tie game at halftime."
Loeding led Prairie Ridge with 19 points, while Fuery, Collins and James Muse each added 10. Muse hauled in 17 rebounds. Loeding got a friendly bounce on a left corner 3 for a 52-45 lead, then swished one from the right corner on the next possession to make it 55-45.
"That's just gamer mentality," Loeding said. "I see the ball, I'm open, I'm going to shoot. That's all that was there.
"Coming out after halftime, we had a rough second quarter and had to bounce back. The way to do it was our offense. We knew if we buckled down on defense, offense would take care of itself and we'd be fine."
Prairie Ridge hit 55.8% from the field (24 of 43).
Cooper LePage hit four 3s in the second quarter and led the Gators with 17 points. AJ Demirov scored 15 and Zach Peltz added 11.
Gators coach Matt LePage felt the slow start was crucial, even with South's scalding second quarter.
"No. 1, we got off to an awful start at home with four seniors out there," Matt LePage said. "That's super disappointing. Just came out soft and sluggish and let them get comfortable. They got comfortable early, which kind of set the tone for the rest of the game. They drove us, kicked out to open shooters and made a lot of shots. They did a good job. They deserved to win the game.
"We have to solve some toughness issues, for sure. We played very soft and PR exposed it."