PONTIAC — Quinten Payne is averse to being compared to his older brother Cully.
But after the St. Charles North senior shooting guard put on a performance reminiscent of the three standout performances his brother authored for Schaumburg in leading the Saxons to the championship game four years ago against Warren at the famed Pontiac Holiday Tournament, inevitable questions arose.
“I try not to compare myself to him,” the younger Payne said after scoring a game-high 22 points as the North Stars avenged an earlier regular-season loss to Waukegan with a 66-58 victory over the Bulldogs in the opening game of the 16-team, double elimination tournament on Thursday morning. “(Cully) told me, ‘Do what we do in the skills workout, and everything else will fall into place.’”
The fellow Loyola recruit scored in every imaginable fashion for the North Stars: whether slashing to the rim — he finished with three dunks — or scoring from the perimeter, Payne was not to be denied.
“(Payne) is a strong, athletic kid,” Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw said. “He was the best player on the floor this morning.”
The opening quarter was fast and furious, the frenetic play belying its early start time.
But in a theme that was to be repeated with deadly effect: the North Stars hit 3-point field goals in the waning seconds of the first three periods.
Alec Goetz, who drained four 3-pointers to augment the game-high Payne tally with 16 points, hit a left-wing bomb as time expired before the first quarter; the junior guard then gave St. Charles North (7-4) another lead at the intermission, 26-24, with another 3-pointer with four seconds to play.
But the twin Goetz late-quarter 3-pointers were more than trumped by the North Stars’ Tony Neari.
Quintin Davis’ 3-pointer with four-plus seconds to play in the third reduced the Bulldogs’ deficit to 42-38, but Neari, after taking the inbounds pass, improbably hit a line-drive shot from the timeline as time expired.
“Honestly, I just threw up a prayer,” Neari said.
“(The shot) kept our spirits going into the fourth quarter,” St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. “(The game) was starting to take the feel of the of the first time we played (a late Waukegan victory at a city shootout three weeks ago).”
The Neari shot jump-started the North Stars into the final quarter; St. Charles North scored 24 points in the final eight minutes.
Justin Stanko and Neari were the third and fourth North players in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
St. Charles North upped its lead to double digits, and Waukegan never came closer than 7 points the rest of the way.
“We were ready for them this time,” Neari said.
Devonte Taylor scored a team-high 19 points for Waukegan (7-6).Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.