North Chicago rises to the task vs. Mundelein
Coach Gerald Coleman has a rule for his North Chicago boys basketball players following a typical 2½-hour practice on a Saturday morning before a home game.
No player is allowed to go back to sleep when he goes back home.
Yawns are permitted.
"If they sleep all day, they're going to be sluggish when they come to the game," Coleman explained.
After his team played a sleepy first half defensively against the host school in Saturday night's tournament finale at Mundelein, the veteran coach was questioning his tactics.
"I was a little nervous the first half," Coleman said. "I was like, 'Man, I might have practiced these kids too hard.' We worked hard."
The Warhawks saved their hardest work of the day for the second half.
Led by tourney MVP JaVairius Amos-Mays and fellow all-tournament pick Kurt Hall, North Chicago limited Mundelein to 18 second-half points and rallied for a 75-58 win. The Warhawks' victory capped a 5-0 showing in the tournament, which was co-hosted by Mundelein and Warren.
Short-handed Mundelein finished 2-3 in the tournament, losing both of its weekend games. Southern Illinois-bound Sean O'Brien, who had team bests of 21 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots against North Chicago, represented the Mustangs on the all-tourney team.
"It's a sour taste left in our mouth from this tournament," said Mundelein senior point guard Quinn Pokora, who tied his career high with 18 points, hitting four 3-pointers. "For the seniors, we weren't too happy. ... We just didn't have the best tournament."
Amos-Mays scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Hall (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Jarrod Coleman (11 points, 12 rebounds) also had double-doubles for the Warhawks. Guard JayQuan McCloud, who also made all-tournament, chipped in 16 points, and Waukegan-transfer Emanuel January scored 13 coming off the bench.
North Chicago trailed 40-32 at halftime, having gotten outscored 20-16 in each quarter.
"I know we can play offense," Gerald Coleman said. "I was very impressed with our defense. The second half we had the rotation going."
The Warhawks were not rotating defensively in the opening half. As a result, Mundelein shooters such as Pokora (two 3-pointers), Cliff Dunigan (two) and Dylan Delaquila (two) were allowed room to launch from the arc.
"We were executing, we were running our offense really well, we were patient, and we were getting good shots," Pokora said. "I don't think we took a bad shot in the first half. And (defensively), we did a really good job of stopping them from penetrating, too."
North Chicago was a different team defensively after halftime. Mundelein shot 6 of 12 from beyond the arc in the opening half, but was 0 of 4 in the third quarter and 2 of 6 in the fourth.
Mundelein, which had no turnovers in the first quarter, coughed up the ball 12 times after halftime.
"(North Chicago) got aggressive (defensively)," said Pokora, who made Mundelein's only 3s in the second half.
"The first half we were playing so timid," Gerald Coleman said. "Mundelein is a great-shooting team, and we were giving them a lot of looks at the three-point line. We weren't getting to the three-point shooters."
North Chicago attacked Mundelein in the second half with the 6-6 Hall and the 6-3 Coleman. Hall scored 14 points after the break, while Coleman netted 7. Amos-Mays had 8 points in the third in helping the Warhawks outscore the Mustangs 24-8 to take a 56-48 lead into the final quarter.
"(No.) 33 (Hall) had a great game," Pokora said. "He really brought them back."
"When they started pressuring us, it pushed us back," said O'Brien, who had only 6 points in the second half. "We didn't deal very well with the pressure. I think we got out of running our motion and tried doing too much one on one in the second half. We didn't play good team basketball."
Dunigan added 13 points for Mundelein, which had only four players score.
When Mundelein plays next, at Lake Forest on Friday, the Mustangs could have four players back in Thomas Gandolfi, Chino Ebube, Nate Williams and Diamond Hood. Gandolfi didn't play against North Chicago after injuring his ankle and knee late in the fourth quarter of Friday night's loss to Waukegan.
"It's never fun to lose, but I think it was good to get other guys experience," O'Brien said. "(Derek) Parola stepped in, (Adam) Turner stepped in, JT Michalski. Dylan (Delaquila) has never played that many minutes. I think it was good experience for them and will make us stronger at the end of the season. We'll just be deeper."
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