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Seldom will a high school team enjoy a 30-point quarter.
But Joliet Central, which had gone more than 4œ minutes before scoring its first points Tuesday night, came out on fire in the third quarter, outscoring visiting Plainfield South 30-17 to turn a 30-25 halftime deficit into a 55-47 lead en route to a 67-60 nonconference victory.
“We’ve been starting out slow,” said Steelmen senior guard Eddie McElrath, who capped a 15-point night with four clinching free throws in the final 28 seconds. “We have to get the jump on teams instead of them jumping on us.”
“Talk about winning ugly,” Central coach Jeff Corcoran said.
It wasn’t ugly for the No. 9 Steelmen (3-2) in the third quarter, however, when they hit 12-of-16 shots and forced six South turnovers while committing one. Jalen Heath scored 12 of his 14 points, McElrath seven and Jonah Coble six of his game-high 21 in the big quarter.
“The first goal after halftime was to get a quick start and get even as fast as possible,” Corcoran said. “The kids executed. We have a lot of new kids, juniors, and they have to play the defensive end, too. We have to find the happy medium of when to turn them loose.”
“We knew they would make a run and they certainly did,” South coach Tim Boe said. “That 22 (Coble) is tough. We’ve got to respond to stuff like that.
“I like the effort we came out and played with, but we have to play four quarters.”
South (0-5) had 12 turnovers in the second half and 20 overall, a telling statistic because the Cougars stayed close with hot shooting. Alonzo Garrett led with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Corey Evers added 15.
“Number 4 (Garrett) wasn’t even in our scouting report,” Corcoran said. “He can shoot it. They really shot the ball.”