CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake Central was more than eager to get back on the court after suffering a 20-point loss to McHenry last weekend, and Crystal Lake South was the unfortunate victim of the Tigers’ pent-up energy Wednesday.
Central made its first five shots to grab a commanding lead, then kept hitting shots all night. Even when the Gators twice hit three 3-pointers in less than a minute, Central did not waver.
“We came out pumped and jumped on them right away, so that was nice,” Tigers 6-foot-9 center Alex Timmerman said. “We came out ready to play. We got in on them on defense, and it lead to easy offense.”
Central overcame 18 turnovers with its 62.5 percent field-goal shooting and handled the Gators, 63-48, in their Fox Valley Conference game at the Central Fieldhouse.
“It was just a lot of ball movement,” said Tigers guard C.J. Lerum, who led all players with 17 points. “We wanted to move it around the perimeter and then get it into Alex. If they closed on Alex, he would look out. That [McHenry loss] really fired us up for practice, and that was motivation for this game. And playing South is always fun.”
Central (10-5 overall, 4-2 FVC) won for the sixth time in seven games. Timmerman added 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while guard Will Welder scored 10 points, and forward Evan Cassell had eight points and a second-quarter dunk.
“The fact that we came back after laying an egg – I don’t want to take anything away from McHenry, but that was not representative of who we are as a team,” Tigers coach Rich Czeslawski said. “That we came out and started the next game the way we did was a good sign. We wanted them to just try to calm down and keep their confidence up, and they responded tonight.”
South (7-8, 3-2) hit three 3s to start the second quarter, two from Matt Reall and one from Jonathan Holloway, and eventually cut a 12-point lead to two. But the Tigers pushed the margin back to 33-20 by halftime.
In the fourth, the Gators again had a furious minute when Jack Murphy hit a pair of 3s and Ben Geske added another, making it 53-45 with 3:22 to play. South was playing without 6-4 forward Tyler Haskin, its second-leading scorer (9.5 ppg) and leading rebounder, and had difficulties inside.
Eleven of the Gators’ 17 field goals were 3s. South coach Matt LePage was just happy for his players to see some shots go through the net on a 26.5 percent shooting night.
“It was more fun to not only make shots, but make consecutive shots,” LePage said. “It makes you that much better on defense then. That’s something we need to do early in games. You can’t get in a hole against a team like that on their home court. I knew they’d come out hungry after their McHenry loss. They kept pushing; they played well.”
Murphy came off the bench and led South with 14 points, all in the second half. He had three 3s and a 3-point play. Reall hit three 3s and scored 11.