Fox boys basketball notes: St. Charles East enjoys shot clock experiment

If you weren't at St. Charles East's 63rd annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament, you missed a chance to look into the future of high school basketball.

For the first time, a 35-second shot clock was employed during the 32-game event.

The host Saints split 4 tourney games, scoring a season-high 80 points against East Aurora, while averaging 67 points per contest.

Without the shot clock 6 days later, the Saints lost a 40-32 Upstate Eight Conference decision to Lake Park.

"Credit Lake Park for maximizing their possessions," said Saints coach Patrick Woods. "They had the ball for sometimes a minute and a half to two minutes. It's hard to play defense for that long.

"I'm just not a fan of long possessions on offense because I don't think it's fun to watch."

There should be fewer games in the 30s and 40s in the not-so-distant future.

"The shot clock is coming - it's just a matter of how long the state (IHSA) wants to implement it," said Woods. "I'm hoping it's here within three years.

"They (IHSA) can make all the excuses in the world about why not to have it, but we have a lot of football games with the play clock on the field, and we have water polo that has a shot clock. Why are we making such a big deal about this?"

Count Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith as a believer in the shot clock - especially this season.

The Hawks scored a school-record 104 points during their 27-point victory over East Aurora last Friday. Leading 43-40 at halftime, Bartlett exploded for a 61-point second half.

Nathan Scearce led the Hawks with 30 points, while Kelton McEwen added 25 points and 8 assists, and Marty McCarthy had 14 points.

The new-look, up-tempo Hawks carried a 6-2 record into the week's action.

"The last three years, we have played around a 7-foot center (Conrad Luczynski) and used the size advantage Conrad brought. Unlike the private schools that recruit athletes, we get what we get - and this year, we are small again."

Small but effective.

"We worked very hard in the summer to create offensive pace and we are getting better at playing at that pace," said Wolfsmith. "As a coach, I think it is hard for our opponents to speed up to play with us."

Aurora Christian coach Dan Beebe might be a shot clock proponent as well following last Friday's Eagles' 33-30 loss to St. Francis.

The loss snapped the Eagles' (9-1) 9-game winning streak.

"I didn't really know what to expect, but if you would have told me that we would be 9-1 after 10 games, I would have taken it," said Beebe.

Freshman guard Marshawn Cocroft scored 22 points, including the game-winning basket with 2 seconds left, during the team's 61-59 win over Joliet Catholic at the Burney Wilkie Classic.

South Elgin entered the week tied with Bartlett atop the Upstate Eight at 3-0.

Elias Cole Williams scored 25 points as the Storm downed Glenbard East 68-42 last Friday. Mason Montgomery added 5 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 blocks.

The Storm dropped a 63-58 decision to Yorkville (8-1) as part of last Saturday's Storm Shootout. In other action, Hinsdale Central edged Oak Lawn 69-64 in OT, and New Trier clipped Rolling Meadows, 65-64.

"We had some awesome games," said Storm coach Philip Church. "We played a Yorkville team that people should be paying attention to."

The tourney could expand in future years.

"We have some community members interested in sponsoring next year's event and with our broadcasting academy at South Elgin being ESPN certified, it is a nice draw for suburban teams - to potentially have a chance to connect with ESPN."

Playing without junior Jakob Blakley (expected back in January), Larkin carried a 3-4 record into the week.

"Missing Jakob is a huge piece," said Royals coach Deryn Carter. "However, Jakob won't be able to correct things we are doing poorly at all by himself."

Carter remains patient - to a point.

"While there are some things we as coaches need to have additional patience on with guys who lack experience, there are some nonnegotiable things that come with playing at Larkin High School that we are still trying to understand," said Carter.

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