LePage's career-high 31 leads CL South over Huntley
Crystal Lake South senior guard Cooper LePage was determined to give Huntley something special in his final game against the Red Raiders.
"There's just a different level of aggressiveness when I play Huntley. I've been playing those kids since fourth grade," LePage said. "I just want to beat them every single time out. I just got hot, I got confident, my teammates were getting me open shots and that's just what happened."
LePage poured in a career-high 31 points and hit six 3-pointers while sparking a crucial third-quarter run as the Gators defeated Huntley 61-52 in their Fox Valley Conference boys basketball game Friday night at The Swamp. The loss dropped Huntley a game behind Burlington Central in the FVC race.
LePage hit 12 of 19 from the field, making eight of his first 11, with one of those misses on a heave from the backcourt at the end of the first quarter.
"He wanted to win, that's for sure," Gators coach Matt LePage of his son. "Last round with Huntley. We came out with an edge."
South (19-7, 10-4 FVC) and Huntley (19-7, 11-3) were tied at 31-31 when the Raiders' Ian Ravagnie scored the first basket of the second half. But LePage sparked the key run of the game with seven quick points.
The Gators went on a 17-0 run to take control, with Cameron Miller hitting a 3 and feeding Brady Schroeder for a layup.
"The zone really messed them up," Miller said. "Coop got on fire, all of us got on fire and we started hitting shots and really rolling. That really helped our whole team's momentum."
South switched from man-to-man to its Flathead zone in the second quarter, switching between a 1-2-2 and a 1-3-1 with ball pressure. Huntley went 5 minutes without scoring in the third quarter and committed seven turnovers.
"It was a combination of finding (Cooper) when he was hot and we ran some stuff to get him looks," Matt LePage said. "We set our defense and you could see the confidence building. We got some steals, they threw it away a little bit and made them shoot over contested hands. That's the biggest thing with them, you can't not contest their shots or they'll make them."
Huntley coach Will Benson felt the zone took his team out of its offensive rhythm.
"We were a little passive against it, combined with the fact we didn't make many shots," Benson said. "We didn't get a lot of extra opportunities. Our first half was OK, Cooper's so hard to guard on the 3 because he's so good at getting to the rim.
"The third quarter got away from us. We had turnovers and I usually don't blow through three timeouts like that in 3 minutes. We just could not stop the bleeding. We have to do a better job of responding to a run, which we didn't."
Cooper LePage said the Gators emphasized coming out strong in the third quarter.
"That's where we were taking our dips early in the season," Cooper LePage said. "We'd come out at halftime and just get our doors blown off us. We wanted to come out with some aggressiveness and blow the doors off of them."
LePage hit two more 3s early in the fourth quarter as South kept the lead in double digits most of the way.
Huntley battled back behind two 3s from Noah Only to make it 56-47 with 2:43. Lucas Crosby had a 3 rattle in and out that would have cut the lead to six with 2:00 to go.
"I credit out group for coming back and making it respectable," Benson said. "With as bad as that third quarter was, one of the worst quarters we've played all season, Lucas' ball was three-quarters of the way down to cut it to six with 2:00 left. If we got to six with 2:00, we had a chance."
AJ Demirov tossed in 13 for South and Miller added eight. Only and Crosby each scored 14 to lead the Raiders.