CRYSTAL LAKE – Dundee-Crown’s Juwan Stewart did all his scoring in a span of 3:30 in the second quarter against Crystal Lake South.
The 6-foot-4 junior scored nine points, but they were the nine most important points of the game as they jump-started the Chargers’ sputtering offense.
Before Stewart got going, D-C had one field goal. After his four baskets, the Chargers had seized control and led the rest of the way for a 61-52 victory in their Class 4A Crystal Lake Central Regional boys basketball tournament play-in game Monday at the Central Fieldhouse.
“I gave them a little spark, it woke everybody up,” Stewart said. “I saw I had a mismatch because my man was slower, so I took him off the drive. It was exciting. It pumped me up and I wanted to get the ball more.”
Stewart opened the second quarter with a free throw, then Nick Munson scored on a short jumper. The Gators took an 8-6 lead on Chris Mahoney’s 16-footer, but it was their last advantage of the game. Stewart scored four times in the lane for the next eight points and No. 5-seeded D-C (9-17) was off and running.
“Those were huge,” Chargers coach Lance Huber said of Stewart’s field goals. “He had a little mismatch with his man. Those were big buckets for us. That relaxed us a little.”
D-C meets No. 1 Cary-Grove (15-12) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the first semifinal. No. 3 Jacobs (16-13) faces No. 2 Prairie Ridge (17-10) in the second game at 8.
The Chargers shot 59.4 percent (19 of 32) for the game after an 0 for 4 start in the first quarter.
“What kept us in the game early was our defense,” said D-C guard Cordero Parson, who scored 11 points. “We knew the points were going to come.”
Nick Munson hit three 3-pointers in the second half and led the Chargers with 15 points, while Kiwaun Seals added 13.
South (15-13) got 12 from Mahoney and 11 from Caleb Johnson. The Gators scored 29 points in the fourth quarter and cut D-C’s lead from 16 to seven by forcing nine Chargers’ turnovers in the fourth quarter.
D-C hit 11 of 14 free throws, however, to keep the lead at a safe distance.
“In the second quarter, their confidence went up and ours went down,” Gators coach Matt LePage said. “We kept fighting. It could have gone the other way, it’s hard when you’re not making shots, but we kept fighting.”
South shot 35.4 percent (17 of 48) for the game and was 9 of 32 in the first three quarters.
“We did enough,” Huber said. “The postseason’s tough, but we got one [win] under our belts.”