Rolling Meadows shakes off sluggish 2nd quarter

Everything was progressing well for the Rolling Meadows basketball team Tuesday night at York High School.

All five starters had scored. A creative offense saw the Mustangs connect for four 3-point baskets - three by Tsvet Soitrov - and score three other baskets and hit two free throws. At the end of the quarter Rolling Meadows led 21-9 over St. Patrick in the 48th annual Jack Tosh basketball tournament second round game.

The Mustangs blew a tire in the second quarter and scored only on a Cameron Christie trey. At that point Rolling Meadows led 24-16 with 4:44 left in the first half. The half ended with Rolling Meadows leading 24-20.

Senior Foster Ogbonna patched the tire with a strong third quarter. His efforts along with the other Mustangs secured a 58-39 win.

"I was frustrated after the first half," said Ogbonna. "We missed a lot of free throws (7) in the second quarter and that bothered me. I had to go out there and rebound and play hard. We just had to forget what happened in the first half."

Ogbonna scored 6 of his 14 points in a 10-0 run to start the third quarter for a 34-22 lead. By the end of the quarter Rolling Meadows was in control 40-24.

"Foster had a great third quarter for us," said Christie. "It was quite a sight to see. He really works hard and he does what needs to be done to help us win."

For the game Ogbonna hit 6 of 8 shots, led his team with 12 rebounds, had two assists and forced a Shamrock turnover that helped in the third quarter run.

"Foster was big for us tonight," said Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich whose team is now 13-1. "He's such a great kid. He's intense, he hustles, and he plays super hard. He was the difference tonight."

Slowing down the offense to start the third quarter was the other difference-maker.

"When we slowed down our offense," said Katovich, "we executed better. When we got the ball inside to Mark (Nikolich-Wlson) and he began scoring, we were able to set up our defense.

Nikolich-Wilson scored 12 points to go with 11 rebounds. Christie scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half.

The Shamrocks, who had an off night shooting, connected on 16 of 46 shots for 34%. A.J. Thomas led the 9-3 Shamrocks with 15 points. Andrew Ayeni added 10 points and 5 rebounds.

Rolling Meadows will now face Glenbrook South in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The Mustangs defeated the Titans 68-55 on Nov. 29 at home.

"This win was a good confidence builder for us," said Ogbonna. "I'm going to sleep good tonight."

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