Crystal Lake South cruises to victory against Woodstock North

Crystal Lake South experienced a drought of a whole 1 minute, 16 seconds before forward James Carlson swished in a 3-pointer from the right side.

From that point on, the Gators put on a dizzying display of basketball, churning out one turnover after another with their 1-3-1 half-court zone, then firing in 3s like they were layups on the other end.

Crystal Lake South got six turnovers and one blocked shot on Woodstock North's first seven possessions. By the end of the quarter, the Gators had eight 3s and the Thunder had committed 12 turnovers.

Crystal Lake South rode that start to a 77-34 nonconference victory over North Saturday at The Swamp. It was the second time in less than 24 hours that the Gators could have won with what they scored in the first quarter alone. They scored 27 points Friday in the first quarter of their 76-22 win over Prairie Ridge.

"This has been a really good week with four wins," Gators coach Matt LePage said. "We've been getting off to good starts. We've been coming out strong."

Carlson felt he was on right after he nailed the 3 with 6:44 to go in the first quarter. He had two more 3s and nine points only 42 seconds later.

"It was just insane. My teammates were feeding me the ball and I had open shots," said Carlson, who hit five 3s and finished with 15 points. "Their defense collapsed and they kept feeding me and it felt good to have a good start like that.

"After the first one went in, I felt good. AJ (Demirov) got me a lot of open shots. After the first one, I was like, 'I'm going to keep going.' "

Demirov led Crystal Lake South (9-1) with 21 points, six assists and five steals. After Carlson made the first shot, Demirov made a point of driving through the lane and finding him on the right side or corner.

"We started out hot. James hit a 3 to start the game off and we just got behind him," Demirov said. "I would drive and see James out there and kept finding him. He was hitting everything. It was crazy."

Carlson had four 3s in the first quarter, Demirov had three and Carson Trivellini added another. Crystal Lake South led 37-12 after the first quarter. Along with Demirov, who is 5-foot-11, the Gators have Carlson (6-6), Tony Santarelli (6-5), Christian Rohde (6-8) and Colton Hess (6-6) in the starting lineup.

"What a team, man," Thunder coach Josh Jandron said. "Everybody's 6-3 or over. That's a good team and well-coached. I love Matt, he's a great guy.

"You just try to keep taking care of the ball the best you can. Get to open areas. We didn't do a very good job taking care of it and exploiting the zone areas. The diagonals. We didn't look for stuff that's normally open on zones. Maybe it's because we couldn't see it. Sometimes it's not there. That's a good team defensively. They did a very good job on the defense."

Tyler Ward led the Thunder (5-3) with nine points and six rebounds. Woodstock North had 21 turnovers in the first three quarters.

"When James is shooting like that and guys are playing with confidence off AJ and stuff, yeah, we can make it happen," LePage said. "His ability to score and playmate is really starting to show. Guys are building confidence off that. And our defense has been great."

Trivellini added 10 points for the Gators with a pair of 3s.

"We use our length well with me, Tony, Christian and everybody," Carlson said. "We get in passing lanes and get steals and it's easy layups. The defense contributes to a lot of our points. It's great to get out and run like that."

Woodstock North was coming off a 54-53 victory over Plano in a Kishwaukee River Conference game on Friday.

"We just didn't match up very well. The effort wasn't all the way there," Jandron said. "Up until this point we've played very well. You want to play teams like that. You want to play good teams. I'm really proud of the guys, not necessarily with how we played today, but how we played up to this point. They're going to learn from it. They know, we'll make adjustments."

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