Stanton’s hot shooting rallies Downers Grove North, but Homewood-Flossmoor holds on

Jack Stanton fell down three times while attempting 3-point shots in the second half Saturday, but made two and bounced back up each time.

And, most importantly, kept shooting.

Downers Grove North’s senior guard and Princeton recruit has built a reputation as one of the state’s best shooters. He only added to it at Saturday’s marquee event.

Stanton knocked down seven 3-pointers – five in the second half – in trying to will the Class 4A eighth-ranked Trojans back against No. 1-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor.

It couldn’t overcome his team’s rough third quarter, but Stanton put forth a valiant effort in a 59-51 loss at the When Sides Collide Shootout at Benet.

“I just had the trust of my teammates to make a play out there,” said Stanton, who shot 7 for 13 from beyond the arc in scoring a team-high 21 points and also grabbed six rebounds. “Them wanting to give me the ball gave me confidence that I could make a play.

“They got me the ball, and the rest is history.”

Stanton made history Friday, scoring his 1,000th career point in a win over York.

Wearing a brace on a recently sprained ankle, Stanton said he’s about 90%. His fourth 3-pointer gave the Trojans (17-4) their last lead, 34-33 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

But it was Downers Grove North’s only basket over a nearly seven-minute stretch as Homewood-Flossmoor (19-1), unbeaten against Illinois teams, turned a nine-point deficit into a 43-36 lead.

“We came out soft and were not playing like us at the start of the third quarter. That is ultimately what won them the game,” Stanton said. “It’s a good learning moment for us. It’s not a playoff or a conference game. It’s just another step for us up the mountain. We learn and bounce back.”

Stanton’s supporting cast helped Downers Grove North build a 28-22 halftime lead. Aidan Akkawi, a 6-foot-4 junior, scored six points in the first quarter, and Bobby Granto, a 6-foot-6 junior, came off the bench with seven in the second quarter.

The Trojans surged ahead with a 14-0 run late in the second quarter and outrebounded H-F 19-10 in the first half.

Stanton’s 3-pointer on the first possession of the third quarter gave Downers Grove North its biggest lead, 31-22.

“The first and second quarter we did a good job going inside-out with a balanced attack. That condenses and breaks down a tough, physical defense,” Downers Grove North coach Jim Thomas said. “We kind of became one dimensional at one point, stepped on our foot. We had some things happen, just giving away possessions. You give them two possessions to our one, it’s only a matter of time that a team as talented as them takes advantage.”

Gianni Cobb, a senior guard and one of a numbers of transfers that has led H-F’s resurgence this season, scored a game-high 22 points, 14 in the second half. Cobb sat for part of the second quarter with two fouls, but came back with back-to-back 3-pointers to cap an 11-0 run for a 33-31 lead.

“We needed to stay calm. We knew they were going to make their runs, and we needed to come back strong and make our runs,” Cobb said. “I just told my coach I’m hooping right now, I’m not going to foul, but I’m going to play physical. He trusted me.”

Cobb, who noted that he will see Stanton at the next level in the Ivy League at Columbia, made a number of big plays late as Stanton tried to lead Downers Grove North back from 11 points down in the fourth quarter. None were bigger than Cobb’s rebound of his own miss with the Vikings clinging to a five-point lead in the final minute. H-F also made all six of its free throws in the fourth quarter to stem the tide, Cobb with two of them.

“They were saying he’s the best point guard,” Cobb said. “I had to show them that I’m here too.”

Carson Brownfield added 16 points for H-F. Granto added nine points for Downers Grove North.

The Trojans, fourth in Class 4A last season, have shown they can compete with the state’s elite teams. Their three losses with Stanton in the lineup have come against H-F and Curie, No. 1 and No. 2 in Class 4A, and to defending 3A champion Metamora. Downers Grove North led in the second half of two of those games.

“I still think our ceiling is high,” Stanton said. “We led in both of those games, we just didn’t finish it out. We have to take care of the ball better and trust each other.”

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