By Allen Oshinski
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/7/2022 10:27 PM
And just like that, a 1-point South Elgin lead turned into a 20-point Bartlett lead.
The Hawks broke open a close game with a couple of big second-half runs in defeating the Storm, 70-49, in South Elgin on Friday.
Conrad Luczynski had 27 points and 17 rebounds for the Hawks. Nobody other than Luczynski reached double figures for Bartlett, but Ian Smith scored 9 points, all in the second half, Martin McCarthy scored 8, and Kelton McEwen and Nathan Scearce added 7 apiece.
Despite a 25% capacity limit imposed by District U-46 earlier in the day, the crowd was plenty raucous for the rivalry game, jacking up the energy level on both sides.
For most of the first 3 quarters, the Storm was content to concede Luczynski his points and stifle the Hawks’ outside shooters. It worked well enough as Bartlett led just 24-23 at halftime. Luczynski scored 16 of those points as he nearly compiled a double-double by halftime by adding 9 rebounds.
After intermission, Bartlett started to hit some outside shots. South Elgin began double-teaming Luczynski and the Hawks’ marksmen continued to connect from the perimeter, allowing the Hawks to pull away.
“In the second half our defense was the same but we started hitting some shots,” said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. “They started doubling Conrad, he made a few great passes to guys who were open. [Smith] had a few shots, [McEwen] had 1, Marty hit a couple of big ones in there. When you start hitting shots around Conrad, that’s when we’re really dangerous and that’s what you saw in that second half.”
“In the first half they didn’t double me and I got my points,” said Luczynski. “In the second half, they doubled me and then we got the wide-open shots. The second-half push is what won us the game.”
South Elgin took its last lead at 37-36 on a 3-pointer by Brian Vesta. The Hawks answered with a 9-1 run to close out the third quarter. Four different Hawks scored during the run, with Luczynski netting just the last bucket.
Then a 13-0 spurt in the fourth quarter blew the game wide open. Jesse Singh’s basket closed the run and put Bartlett up 61-43.
“I thought we did a really good job in that first half of executing,” said South Elgin coach Brett Johnson. “Conrad’s going to get his 20 points and we’re OK with that. And we shut everybody else down, we’re going to win the game, 22-20, and we’re going to be OK with that. The first half was that: he had his 16 or 18 points in the first half, but they only had 6 or 8 between the other guys. The problem is in the second half, our offense got stagnant, and we started taking contested shots, but then we didn’t get back and defend, and they made a couple “3s,” which forced us to do some things differently.”
Vesta finished with 17 points and added 7 rebounds for the Storm. Drew Cwik and Elias Williams added 7 apiece for South Elgin.
South Elgin girls 59, Bartlett 38:
Even down “two-and-a-half” starters, South Elgin got the job done against visiting Bartlett.
Caroline Croft scored 16 points, Ella Winterhalder 14, and Caitlyn Tolentino 12 as the Storm downed Bartlett, 59-38, in upstate 8 action in South Elgin. First-time starter Chloe Kmiec hit a couple of big 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 9.
Zoie Lewis and Raina Yang were out of the Storm lineup and Winterhalder was hampered by plantar fasciitis. Still, the Storm led 33-19 and broke the game open with a 19-7 advantage in the third quarter.
Amadea Montijo led the Hawks with 10 points, while Laney Stark added 8.
“Right now we’re going through crazy, crazy health protocols and injuries,” said Storm coach Dan Mandernack. “Ella is basically playing on 1 foot, but she kept us in it. They made the first 3 to start the game, then I think Ella had our first 8 points.”
Winterhalder set the school record for made 3-pointers in a career at 202 on Tuesday, as well as scoring her 1,000th point at South Elgin.
“We’re feeling a lot of adversity with injuries and COVID and everything,” said Winterhalder. “Our shots weren’t necessarily falling, but we stuck together, and that was a big key to today’s game.”
“Between Ella and Caroline, they refuse to lose,” Mandernack said. “They just had that look in their eye.”