A struggling offense can always lean on its defense.
That’s what Wheaton Warrenville South’s boys basketball team did on Wednesday at Addison Trail, beating the host Blazers 50-32 in the Addison Trail Pre-Holiday Tournament.
The spark was a defensively dominant eight minutes by the Tigers (2-5). Trailing 14-5 at the end of the first quarter, WW South held Addison Trail (4-7) scoreless for the entire second quarter to take a 16-14 halftime lead.
Even with the slim 2-point advantage, the Tigers set the tone for the second half. Pressure and zone defense stymied the Blazers the rest of the way.
“I think we just picked up the intensity,” said WW South senior Michael Kramer. “Our defense led to offense and we were more sound with the ball in taking care of it. We put good pressure on the ball and shut them down before they got in a rhythm.”
Addison Trail stormed to the early 9-point lead by attacking WW South’s zone, but the Tigers clamped down in allowing only 18 points over the final 24 minutes. In addition to 0-of-5 shooting, 8 of the Blazers’ 23 turnovers came in the second quarter.
WW South also wasn’t stellar offensively, but the Tigers’ defense allowed them to steadily take control in the third quarter. Kramer’s bucket midway through gave his team a 25-24 lead and led to an 11-2 run.
The Blazers were hampered by the absence of leading scorer James Pupillo, a junior guard who missed his third straight game with an ankle injury.
“You watch us play and offensively we just settled for jump shots,” said Addison Trail coach Brendan Lyons. “We never got the ball in the high post, never got the ball inside. We tried to change the tempo with our defense and play a faster pace, and they just gashed us.”
The Tigers’ offense dictated the second-half tempo. They made 13 of 17 attempts from the field while pulling away to a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter. The final score matched WW South’s biggest lead of the game.
In a balanced effort Kramer led seven WW South scorers with 13 points. Aiden Hernandez and Ryan Graham added 8 points apiece off the bench. Joe Kurucar made four 3-pointers while leading Addison Trail with 12 points.
“I’m very happy for our kids,” said WW South coach Bob Szorc. “It’s been a tough stretch and they’ve done a great job of battling. This is the first time we’ve handled adversity with a little bit of resolve. It’s going to happen at some point for a young team, and it happened tonight.”
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