WOODSTOCK – Crystal Lake South boys basketball guard Austin Rogers always has been able to find ways to put up points.
His scoring ability was on display Wednesday, when the Gators defeated host Woodstock, 70-50, behind Rogers’ game-high 26 points. He had the opportunity to score more, but shot just 8 of 16 from the free-throw line.
This season, Gators coach Matt LePage is looking for the senior to develop into an all-around player, and that, too, was on display in Wednesday’s win.
“He’s a scorer,” LePage said. “When he gets inside he’s a pretty good player. He maneuvers around in there somehow and makes the play.
“But this year it’s all about becoming a complete player and trusting your teammates, and I thought he did that tonight. He was finding the open guys.”
Rogers set the tone early as he led an aggressive Gators defense that switched into a full-court press less than two minutes into the game. The pressure forced the Blue Streaks into numerous turnovers, including three on inbounds passes in the first half – two of which were forced by Rogers.
“We didn’t take care of the ball very well tonight,” Blue Streaks coach Al Baker said. “[South] played very good defense on us tonight and we didn’t have very many opportunities to get in the half court and execute what we worked on in practice.”
Woodstock (1-4) was led by Damian Stoneking’s 11 points while post-presence player Nick Kubiak scored 10.
Rogers finished with seven steals, which the Gators (5-0) turned into 14 points – eight of which he scored on his own. The 6-foot-2 guard also collected five assists, which he created when the Woodstock defense collapsed on his drives to the basket.
Aside from a big night from Rogers, the Gators saw solid production from their bench as 10 players scored. Tyler Baker came off the bench early and scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Wes Buckner scored four points while playing strong defense.
South also thrived on its fast-paced play. The Gators like to score points in transition and they forced the Blue Streaks to run with them. The speed allowed South to attack the basket quickly and either pass it to an outside shooter like Caleb Johnson – who scored 11 points on three 3-pointers – or stay inside and draw fouls. In total, South took 34 free-throw attempts to Woodstock’s 13.
“We’re all firing around and passing the ball and we’re playing good team basketball,” Rogers said. “Our main goal is to get out and run because we have some good athletes on this team. We feel we can get some and-ones that way.”