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The first three plays of Friday’s SouthWest Suburban Red matinee against visiting Thornridge was a microcosm of the start of Stagg’s conference season.
A missed layup. A turnover. An offensive foul.
The next three were a little more what Chargers coach John Daniels is hoping becomes a new habit.
A layup. A three-pointer. A pull-up swish.
Kevin White scored a game-high 21 points as Stagg pulled away for a 75-60 victory.
“A good team win. We’ll take it,” Daniels said. “We’ve got to keep getting better. If we can eliminate those mistakes, we can sneak up [in the playoffs] on one of those teams like a Homewood-Flossmoor.”
Max Strus added 20 points, six rebounds and Sean Dwyer contributed 19 points for the Chargers (11-4, 2-2).
Thornridge (4-11, 0-4) received 18 points and 21 rebounds from Austin Dunbar, 15 points from Xavier Robinson, 13 points from Antonio Woods and 12 points from Victor Trout.
The Chargers needed a New Year’s boost following early league losses to Thornton and Andrew, and they got it after a stutter-start in which Thornridge jumped to a 4-0 lead on baskets by Joseph Gant and Robinson.
White, a 6-foot-1 guard, kicked them into gear with nine first-quarter points via two drives, a pullup jumper and a three-pointer.
“We know we can score,” White said. “But we’ve been working a lot on our defense. Our defense was poor in the Andrew and Thornton games, so we’re working as hard as we can on that in practice. We’re coming along.”
More work, it was evident, is needed on boxing out. Thornridge had nine second-chance baskets in the game, three when Dunbar put back his own misses.
Stagg’s first attempt to pull away was negated by Woods, who put on a one-man show for the Falcons in the second period, scoring 13 of their 15 points. The score was 32-26 with time running out in the first half when Dwyer drained a three-pointer for Stagg from the right corner as the buzzer went off.
A 19-point second half by Strus allowed Stagg to go in front by as many as 19, Defensively, Steve Kubiak was key for Stagg in shutting out Woods in the third and fourth quarters.
“We had to come out and get a good win,” Strus said. “Obviously, losing to Thornton and Andrew was bad, but we’re coming back together as a team, and we’re going to try out best to win conference.”