Murphy, Tigers learning through early losses

CRYSTAL LAKE – As Crystal Lake Central guard Cavanagh Murphy jogged back on defense after scoring on a mid-range jumper early in the third quarter in a game against Carmel, someone from the Tigers’ bench yelled for him to take over.

On the Tigers’ next possession, Murphy hit a 3-point shot over his defender. Less than a minute later the 6-foot junior drilled another 3-pointer.

“He’s going to need to take control and demand the ball and hit shots for us,” Tigers coach Rich Czeslawski said. “Late in the game, we were a little disappointed that he was giving up the ball at times.

“He’s not a selfish player but he has to look for those opportunities and take advantage of them.”

Czeslawski, who is coaching a young team with only four seniors, knows that Murphy will know when he needs to take control after playing in varsity games and using each as a learning experience. And learning is what the Tigers (0-3) have tried to do during Friday night’s 72-54 loss against Carmel in Central’s Coaches vs. Cancer Thanksgiving Tournament.

The Tigers have faced a variety of teams to open the season, and Czeslawski wanted to make sure his players took advantage of every learning opportunity, saying that each game has been a growing spot. And on Friday, the Tigers played their best game all season.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to learn and grow from playing these teams this early in the season,” Czeslawski said.

Carmel (3-0) is a big, physical team that features a 6-foot-10 center who compliments a bunch of solid outside shooting and driving players. In the first quarter of Friday’s game, the Corsairs jumped out to a 25-11 lead as Central had trouble defending the post.

But a better defensive effort in the second quarter, coupled with more offense including a spark from Jon Ryberg off the bench, helped Central pull within 41-31 at half.

“I just try to stay mentally prepared and have the right mindset,” Ryberg said of playing off the bench. “I just try to get the offense and defense going a bit and try to capitalize on momentum swings.”

He finished with seven points, including a stretch where get got to the foul line, hit a 3-pointer and scored on a layup in the second quarter.

During halftime, Czeslawski talked about playing better defense, and the Tigers did just that. They got several stops and played solid help-defense and took advantage. It was then when the Tigers tried to find Murphy who had the hot hand after an eight-point scoring outburst in a three-minute span.

Kenny Vesely, as Ryberg did in the second quarter, provided a spark off the bench as he scored five quick points as Central found itself down only one possession at 51-48, before Carmel called a timeout and opened its lead back up.

Said Czeslawski of his bench that scored 13 points: “We have a lot of guys coming off the bench and any given night we’re going to have a bunch of different guys coming in that can contribute. It’s a big part of our team this year.”

“In the third quarter, we had four straight stops and we all started making shots,” Murphy said, who finished with a team-high 23 points. “It’s fun playing like that. Eventually we’ll all click.”

Huntley 66, Antioch 43: Three Huntley players scored in double digits and six players combined for eight 3-pointers.

Zach Gorney led Huntley with 19 points. Riley Wicks scored 17 points and teammate Amanze Egekeze scored 12.

McHenry 53, Hoffman Estates 50: McHenry survived a late surge from the Hawks as Nick Bellich scored a team-high 15 points. Cody Freund had 13.

Greg Johnson also scored in double-digits for McHenry with 10.

Belvidere North 89, Prairie Ridge 76: The Wolves nearly kept up with Belvidere North’s fast-paced offense behind a team-high 20 points from Wolves guard Michael Bradshaw.

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