Although Bartlett never trailed, Elk Grove always seemed to be that persistent fly.
When the Hawks were up 7 in the early going, the Grenadiers managed to come back and tie it.
When the Hawks ran it to 10 in the second quarter and 8 in the third, Elk Grove managed to tie in the fourth behind the shooting of Austin Amann and Joel Melendez.
But what the Grens (8-6) couldn’t resolve in Bartlett’s 66-56 win at the Jacobs Holiday Tournament Friday was Lance Whitaker and the Hawks’ moxie.
Whitaker’s 28 points and 12 rebounds were too tough to slow down, nor were the smart, unselfish plays Bartlett resorted to just get out of Algonquin alive with a win.
Whitaker put back a key offensive rebound and kicked out to Jon Moss for a left corner 3-pointer to give Bartlett a 44-41 lead late in third. Moss had the lane and a low-percentage shot but raced it back out and eventually found a cutting Mitch Reid across in the paint, which resulted in a 3-point play that gave the Hawks a 7-point lead with 3:36 remaining. Bartlett’s right decisions came when it counted most and advanced the Hawks (11-4) to the Consolation A championship today against host Jacobs at 4:30 p.m.
“We try to talk about closing out games,” Hawks coach Jim Wolfsmith said. “Lance usually says ‘let’s close it out,’ and in closing it out you have to do two things: make smart decisions with the ball and you’ve got to hit free throws.”
Reid finished with 8 points while Moss finished with 7 points and 4 assists. Bartlett shot 25 of 38 from the field and outrebounded Elk Grove 28-24. The Hawks were also 4 of 6 from the line in the fourth. One of Whitaker’s offensive rebounds, which he skied unscathed to put back his own missed free throw with 2 minutes remaining, gave Bartlett an 8-point lead and a cap on a smart fourth-quarter performance.
“It’s a testament to our chemistry, on and off the court,” Whitaker said. “We really know each other, know each other’s games and that really helped us out in situations like that and that’s how it shows.”
Amman scored 11 of his 22 points in the third quarter where Melendez also chipped in 7 of his 14 points for the Grens. They combined to hit 6 of 11 from downtown, accounting for 14 of the 18 points in the third.
“He’s obviously a D-1 talent and you can’t really stop a kid that athletic who rises up and hits a shot over his defender unless you have a kid 6-foot-10 just as athletic who’s going to be able to rise up and get that,” Elk Grove coach Dan Staker said of Whitaker, a UIC recruit. “We said lets keep him in front of us, and just contest it and make life difficult for him and if he drains it, he drains it. And that’s a sign of a good player. He got inside a few too many times and that was a big difference as well.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.