Schaumburg Christian learns on MLK trip to WW South

Schaumburg Christian's boys basketball program, making its first MLK holiday tournament appearance as a full-fledged member of the Illinois High School Association, had the kind of experience common to those taking a maiden voyage.

Despite a pair of losses Monday afternoon at Wheaton Warrenville South's Horsley Gym to two Chicago schools, Clark (70-55) and University (57-52) that left them with an 0-4 mark for the weekend, first-year coach Kyle McVey viewed it as nothing but a positive experience for his young program.

Schaumburg Christian fell to both Oak Park (81-39) and Rockford Lutheran (89-69) on Saturday.

"This will help us grow," McVey said. "We'll have ended up playing a 4A school (Oak Park), a 3A school (Rockford Lutheran), and a couple of 2A teams (Clark and University) that gave us some great competition."

Schaumburg Christian (2-11) got their second day of tournament action started Monday morning against a Clark squad that led them by 13 (39-26) at the break before a 20-point third quarter featuring 12 of senior guard Matt Winters' game-high 30 brought the Conquerors within 50-46 at the end of 3.

The Eagles used their own 20-point outburst to put away the contest in the final eight minutes.

Sophomore guard Kobe Lyons paced Clark with 22 points and junior Amari Jones had 15, which included 11 of 16 at the foul line.

As a result of a school function, Clark (9-8) swapped games with the Conquerors, sending them to a late afternoon match with University. The matchup was delayed 40 minutes due to the Eagles needing two overtimes to beat Schaumburg Christian's originally bracketed opponent, Plainfield South, 82-70.

After having to wait more than six hours, Schaumburg Christian was able to get off to good start on the strength of 12 of Winters' team-leading 20 points as they led 19-16 at the end of the first.

The winter weather seemed to chill the Conquerors' effort as they were outscored 18-4 by the Maroons (8-7). Junior Mohammed Alausa paced U-High with 7 of his team-high 20 points in the period as Schaumburg Christian trailed 34-23 at the half.

Trailing 51-42 with 3:03 remaining, Schaumburg Christian made a furious effort by going on a 10-2 tear that brought them within 1 (53-52) with 22 seconds left on a feed from Jon Townsel to Rishe Paridas inside.

After a pair of Alausa free throws made it 55-52 with 16 seconds left, Schaumburg Christian had an opportunity to knot things up. But a 3 attempt by Winters hit the back of the rim and was snared by University guard Christian Brookens. After being fouled, Brookens connected at the free throw line for his 10th and 11th points of the game to settle the outcome.

Junior forward Jamison Miller added 16 points and 7 rebounds for the Maroons, who ended up splitting their four games in the tournament. Townsel added 14 points to the Conquerors' cause, including 9 in the final period.

"I couldn't be more proud of how our guys fought back, especially after being down in the second and third quarter," McVey said. "I really liked how we started to handle teams that were a little more athletic by being a little more patient with ball movement. I felt that it really helped."

Winters, who averaged 29 points over the weekend (including a 45-point performance Saturday night versus Rockford Lutheran), felt the tournament put together an opportunity to have a strong second half of the season.

"I felt like we got into a groove in our second game Saturday," Winters said. "It helped us to gain a feel for the different levels of competition we played against."

A return to Northeastern Athletic Conference competition is on the agenda for Schaumburg Christian as it makes a Tuesday night trip to NAC co-leader Aurora Christian (14-0) before a Thursday night home match with Christian Liberty.

"It'll definitely be a test for us," McVey said. "We may be a little tired but if we play with the energy that we had today, we'll be all right."

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