Palatine plays it Smart to stun Fremd
Roosevelt Smart and Palatine showed that no lead is safe against the Pirates.
Smart led a furious comeback, as the host Pirates erased an early 16-point deficit to stun cross-town rival Fremd 54-49 before a near-capacity crowd Friday night.
Smart was outstanding in the fourth quarter, hitting his final 4 shots from the field to notch 13 of his game-high 28 points as the Pirates (13-10 5-3) rallied after trailing 40-30 after three quarters.
"This is a big game for us," said Smart, who missed his first 3 shots and finished 10-for-16 from the field.
"I was getting touches in the first half, but I wasn't knocking down any shots. I just played with a different mindset in the second half. I knew we could beat them and I knew we could win."
Pirates coach Eric Millstone was pleased with how Smart took over in the fourth quarter.
"We have been begging him to get himself involved more on the offensive glass," Millstone said. "I thought he manufactured a lot of touches on his own tonight."
The Vikings (14-7, 5-3) appeared to be in complete control after scoring the game's first 16 points.
Behind the play of Riley Glassmann (15 points), Sean Benka (14 points) and Matt Ochoa (8 points, 12 rebounds 1 block) the Vikings led 21-5 early in the second quarter before the Pirates switched to a trapping defense.
"We had to do something or it would have been a 40-point game," Millstone said. "We switched it up a bit and I thought it got us a little more flow and it settled us down on both ends of the floor."
The theory worked as the Pirates closed their deficit to 27-18 at the half.
After the Pirates pulled to within 7 on three occasions in the third quarter, the Vikings again began to pull away and extended their lead to 38-25 on a pair of free throws by Kevin Kubis with 2:03 left in the third quarter.
But again, Palatine didn't panic.
After trailing 40-30 after three quarters, the Pirates ran off 7 unanswered points to open the final eight minutes and grabbed their first lead with 3:17 to play on a jump-hook from Josh Baldus.
The Vikings, who hit just 5 of 13 free throws in the final quarter, took their last lead when Ben Carlson hit 2 from the line for a 43-42 edge with 3:01 to play.
Smart went hard to the basket, converting on the Pirates' next three possessions, and Chris Macahon (10 points) nailed 2 free throws as Palatine built a 50-44 lead with 1:04 to play. The Vikings would get no closer than 3 from there.
"We just played hard to get some stops," Smart said. "We knew we could make turnovers off our press and our traps."
Vikings coach Bob Widlowski was disappointed with his team's play in the second half.
"I thought the difference was that we held them to 18 points at halftime and they had 54 points at the end of the game," Widlowski said. "We didn't defend like we usually do. We also didn't hit our free throws in the fourth quarter and we missed a few layups."
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