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T.F. South coach John O’Rourke knew his team walked into a wholly different realm playing against defending Class 4A state runner-up Proviso East in the first round of Proviso West Holiday tournament Saturday night.
“We’ve played some very good teams so far, Homewood-Flossmoore, Marian [Catholic] and Joliet West, but this was a very different environment and atmosphere,” O’Rourke said.
The Rebels hung tough for most of the first half, but then the No. 5 Pirates went to a different gear and it proved devastating as Proviso East ran past the Rebels 71-40 in Hillside on Saturday.
Junior guard Jevon Carter scored 17 points and Illinois State-recruit Paris Lee had 15 points and five assists for the Pirates (7-2).
The game changed midway through the second quarter. T.F. South (5-6) withstood the Pirates’ first run, cutting an 11-point deficit to four points (29-25) on a Kenny Doss (12 points) layup with just under four minutes to play.
“Give T.F. South some credit,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “In the first half, especially, they did a good job of handling our first wave of pressure, but I think we were able to get into the second gear,” he said.
Proviso East, the defending tournament champion, ended the half with a 15-6 burst for a 44-31 lead at the break. “We were feeling pretty good at halftime,” O’Rourke said. “We talked about what we had to do to solve their press, but I was very disappointed in how we played in the second half. We showed no heart,” he said.
Proviso East forced 18 turnovers in the first half and 27 for the game. Proviso East had a 32-5 advantage in points off of turnovers. “Coach does a great job of setting up our defense and knowing when to attack the other team and take away what they like to do,” Lee said.
Carter had three three-pointers. He scored five points during a 9-2 burst as the Pirates turned the game into a rout by outscoring the Rebels 20-3 in the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter.
Ten different Proviso East players scored. Brandon Jenkins added nine points for the Pirates.
T.F. South managed only one basket in the third quarter as Proviso East extended its lead to 64-37 to start the fourth quarter. Junior guard Ka-Ton Mays scored 13 points to lead the Rebels.