St. Charles East senior forward Kendall Stephens rode the bench most of Saturday’s game at Batavia, saddled with foul trouble.
That just meant other Saints came forth to pace a 58-52 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory, dealing the host Bulldogs their sixth straight loss.
Dom Adduci scored a game-high 21 points and fellow guard Cole Gentry scored 12 for St. Charles East (6-2, 2-1).
Despite Stephens’ foul trouble — he was scoreless till an 8-point flurry in the decisive fourth quarter before fouling out with two minutes left — the Bulldogs shot 16 of 23 from the foul line to Batavia’s 5 of 9.
“As a team we want (Stephens) in there at all times. But when he gets those quick fouls, it changes things. We need another guy who we can rely on to score on the court,” said Adduci, 6 of 10 from the line.
“Everything gets really spread out, because we look to him, we go through him for our offense,” he said. “So that kind of switches toward going through me a little bit. We have more guards on the floor, like Cole, Joren (Wilson), they really stepped up their game. We handled pressure, we handled it great tonight.”
As Batavia coach Jim Nazos said, “There’s a lot of things that happened right here for us.”
Like shooting from the floor. Batavia (2-7, 0-4) made 21 of 38 shots, 53 percent. Micah Coffey led the Bulldogs with 19 including a game-high five 3-pointers, while Zach Strittmatter and Jake Pollack registered double figures with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Batavia also edged the Saints in rebounds, 22-19.
Yet fast-fingered Saints like Adduci and, off a deep bench, James McQuillan, forced 24 turnovers. That nagged Nazos, as did entering the fourth quarter tied 36-36 and allowing 22 points.
“A 22-point fourth quarter is not what we want to stand for at all,” he said.
Stephens, called for 2 first-quarter fouls and 3 by halftime, swished a 3, sank a 1-hander and made 3 free throws in a 5-minute span for a 48-41 Saints lead with 2:23 remaining.
Strittmatter got a lefty lay-in with Stephens on his back — the fifth foul — and sank the free throw to get Batavia within 48-44 with 2:04 left.
A 4-point margin was as close as St. Charles East allowed over the next minute and a half, then Adduci and Wilson spread the lead to 58-49 with free throws.
“That’s a very good team that we just went neck and neck with,” Strittmatter said. “We’ve just got to get better in practice, just challenge each other every day and just keep working at it. It’ll come.”
St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods believes it’ll get better for his bunch, too. Playing without ailing David Mason, he got quality minutes from A.J. Washington, Jake Asquini, Tyler Windau and then some.
“Coach just wanted everyone to contribute, get some good minutes off the bench,” Windau said.
“We’re seeing a lot of contributions,” Woods said, “and once we start getting more and more comfortable with each other we’ll look a lot better as far as execution.
“If we can get all 14 of us functioning as a unit we’re going to be tough when it comes March, and that’s where our goal is.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.