Thomas' shooting helps CL Central avoid upset

WOODSTOCK – Crystal Lake Central certainly needed DJ Thomas’ 14 third-quarter points in its Fox Valley Conference Fox Division basketball game against Woodstock North on Tuesday, but it needed the mental jump-start even more.

Thomas went 6 of 6 in the third quarter, including two 3-pointers, to lead the Tigers to a 65-56 win. The Tigers led, 27-22, at the half but let the Thunder back in the game to start the third.

“We were down and I thought we needed a little spark,” Thomas said. “I started to shoot the ball, and they went in.”

After hitting three field goals, Thomas connected on back-to-back 3-pointers. He said his teammates kept feeding his hot hand.

“There was no energy on the court for our team,” Thomas said. “It got the team back into it.”

Tigers coach Rich Czeslawski wasn’t surprised by Thomas’ performance and said he comes to every game with a strong focus.

“DJ always comes ready to play,” Czeslawski said. “We can always count on that.”

Czeslawski said his team was not focused. That was manifested at the foul line, where the Tigers shot 61 percent, and from the field, where they missed 60 percent of their shots, many from short range.

“I think you can see by the way we shot free throws we didn’t have a lot of focus,” Czeslawski said. “We still found a way to win the game.”

Also for the Tigers (14-1 overall, 2-0 FVC Fox), Corban Murphy scored 14 points, Kyle Fleck had 11, including two 3-pointers, and Jake VanScoyoc scored eight.

Woodstock North (7-9, 1-1) jumped to a 5-0 lead to start the game and seemed to be stating that they were not going to make it easy for the Tigers. The Thunder played Central even in the first and fourth quarters, and the largest deficit was in the third quarter, when the Tigers outscored the Thunder, 23-18.

Steven Whiting led the Thunder with 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.

“I really thought we could win that game,” Whiting said. “Teams don’t respect us as much as they should. We just couldn’t finish the game.”

The Thunder shot just under 50 percent from the field, but Whiting said the Tigers made them earn their shots.

“They play really good defense,” Whiting said. “You have to take advantage of the shots you get.”

Thunder coach Steve Ryan said he was pleased with his team’s effort against a very good team.

“I thought our kids played extremely hard,” Ryan said. “We stuck our noses in there. We did a lot of positive things.”

Also for the Thunder, Shane Zieman hit two 3-pointers and scored 16 points and sophomore Josh Jandrow added eight.

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