CRYSTAL LAKE – Many of the first-quarter possessions looked similar – a Crystal Lake Central player being gobbled up by Prairie Ridge’s half-court zone pressure and a Wolves’ layup spit out at the other basket.
The score was tied halfway through the quarter, but Prairie Ridge led by 15 at the end of it.
“Like coach [Corky Card] said in practice, we’re getting the flow of things more and playing together better as a unit,” Wolves forward Jack Berg said. “We’re getting the rotation of guys dropping and coming around. We’re where we need to be when the ball is trapped and our offense tonight was our defense.”
Prairie Ridge ignited its transition game through steals and scored 12 of its 14 first-half field goals on inside baskets. That led the Wolves to a 72-53 victory Friday night in their Fox Valley Conference crossover boys basketball game at Central’s Fieldhouse.
“I’d say this was our best game keeping pressure on the ball,” said Prairie Ridge forward Steven Ticknor, who scored 12 points and had a team-high eight rebounds. “But we still have a lot we can improve on. There was good intensity in the first half.”
Prairie Ridge (5-2) never trailed in winning its third consecutive game, although Central (0-8) tied the score at 7-7 with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter. The Wolves pushed the margin to 25-10 in the next four minutes.
“What helps [in the trap] is when you have good length,” Card said. “We have several kids who are 6-3, 6-4, 6-5 and they’re starting to get a better feel for it. If you can get them into a trap, it’s difficult because we can have two 6-3 kids on top.”
Four Prairie Ridge starters – Berg, Ticknor, Michael Bradshaw and Ryan Gilbert – all are 6-foot-3 or taller.
Bradshaw finished with a game-high 20 points on 8 of 11 field-goal shooting. Berg added 12 points and Matt Perhats tossed in 11 for the Wolves.
Central was coming off a dreadful second half in Tuesday’s 73-24 loss to Huntley. The Tigers were demoralized by Huntley’s 50-10 advantage in the second half of that game.
“We looked like an inexperienced team playing an experienced team at the start of the game,” Central coach Rich Czeslawski said. “[Prairie Ridge] is a good team, they run that zone extremely well. We have to execute or we don’t have a chance.”
Central did fight back to cut the lead to 48-40 midway through the third quarter, which Czeslawski saw as a positive.
“It looked like we were about to give up and we called timeout and said, ‘Don’t do that. Find a way to stay in the fight,’ ” Czeslawski said. “I could see it in their eyes. This was night and day from Tuesday.”
Kenny Vesely scored 12 of his team-high 17 points for the Tigers in the second half. Cavanagh Murphy added 11 and Kyle Fritz scored 10.