CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake Central watched the video of Crystal Lake South’s rally from double digits down to beat Dundee-Crown last week.
The Tigers were in no mood for letting South produce a sequel, yet there were the host Gators, running off seven straight points to cut a 10-point lead to three with 3:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We know they are very capable of coming back,” Tigers coach Rich Czeslawski said. “So at not point did we feel comfortable. That’s a really, really good team.”
Czeslawski called timeout, the Tigers took better care of the ball and put the game away, 41-35, in their Fox Valley Conference boys basketball game Friday night at The Swamp.
The outcome leaves Central (16-11, 10-4 FVC) and South (21-7, 10-4) tied with Cary-Grove (19-6, 10-4) atop the FVC standings with two games remaining. Those three teams are done playing each other. The Gators had their 10-game winning streak stopped.
“It was good to get back on track. It was a really fun game,” Central center Alex Timmerman said. “Crosstown rivalries are always the best. There were a lot of people here, so it was a great atmosphere and a really big win for us tonight.”
Deonta Dungey scored on a reverse layup with 1:30 remaining to make it 38-33, then added a free throw with 55 seconds to go. C.J. Lerum made two free throws with 22 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Tigers guard Lucas Seegers’ defense was crucial. Central used a box-and-one to slow down South guard Tyler Miller, with Seegers taking him man-to-man most of the game. Miller was scoreless and managed only three shot attempts.
“We think so highly of Tyler that we didn’t want him to be the one that beat us,” Czeslawski said. “He’s just a fantastic player. We didn’t think in a million years we could do that to him for an entire game. Lucas gave an incredible effort.”
Seegers set a goal of limiting Miller to five shots.
“Always in a passing lane, just denying [the ball],” Seegers said. “No 3s. I had to be sure that if he was going to score on me, he was going to drive. I made sure I tucked over screens and didn’t let him catch the ball.”
South struggled to adjust the entire game, shooting 14 of 52 from the field (26.9 percent) and 5 of 30 on 3-pointers.
“They did a nice job taking Tyler out,” Gators coach Matt LePage said. “We needed to have other guys step up and make shots early against a box-and-one. If you make shots early, you get confidence. We were a little tight. Too many 3s, not enough makes.”
Timmerman led Central with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Dungey tossed in 13. Matt Reall led South with 11 points. Reall’s 3, sandwiched between a pair of Ben Geske steals for layups, hacked the Tigers’ lead to three at 36-33 in the fourth.
“[Another comeback] went through my mind,” Reall said. “I had a wide-open, mid-range shot that didn’t go in, like a lot of our other shots tonight. Taking away Miller does a lot. He’s such a great player and creates shots. You’d think playing four-on-four we’d get some open looks to fall, but I guess not.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Crystal Lake Central, sr., G
Seegers hit a big 3-pointer in the third quarter that gave the Tigers the lead for good, but his biggest contributions came on defense. Central used a box-and-one with Seegers guarding South’s Tyler Miller. Miller got only three shot attempts and did not score.
10: South’s winning streak that was stopped Friday. The Gators’ previous loss also came against Central.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
The pregame celebration involved South’s Class 2A state championship soccer team, which received its rings from winning the title in November.
Crystal Lake Central 41, Crystal Lake South 35
CL CENTRAL (41)
Seegers 1 0-0 3, Welder 1 0-0 2, Lerum 2 2-2 6, Cassell 1 0-0 2, Timmerman 4 7-9 15, Dungey 5 2-4 13, Mendoza 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0, Pokora 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 11-17 41
CL SOUTH (35)
Geske 4 0-0 8, Lawson 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Reall 4 2-2 11, Haskin 2 0-2 4, Fischer 1 0-0 3, Glamoc 3 0-0 9, Jewson 0 0-0 0, Gorken 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 2-4 35.
CL Central 6 9 16 10 – 41
CL South 7 9 7 12 – 35
3-point goals: CL Central 2 (Seegers, Dungey), CL South 5 (Glamoc 3, Reall, Fischer). Total fouls: CL Central 13, CL South 19. Fouled out: Glamoc.