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Bartlett boys basketball coach Jim Wolfsmith admitted that his team was a bit sluggish after a rugged road test in the Upstate Eight Valley against Lake Park on Friday.
But his Hawks were able to muster up enough to outlast Lincoln Park 46-35 at Wheaton Warrenville South’s inaugural MLK Tournament Saturday. Bartlett will face Oswego in the tournament semifinals at 1:15 p.m. Monday.
“I thought we played most of the game flat,” Wolfsmith said. “(The Lake Park game) took a lot out of us. It just didn’t seem like we were moving real quick or taking advantage of open shots.
“I think (Lincoln Park’s length and athleticism bothered us. I thought we did a good job in that third quarter of getting some separation and then holding it in the fourth quarter when they tried a gimmick defense.”
UIC-bound star Lance Whitaker missed nearly the entire second quarter with foul trouble, forcing Bartlett (16-4) to go into survival mode with its star out of the game. The Hawks were able to maintain a 22-19 lead going into the half with Whitaker sitting on the bench.
“I missed the whole quarter with foul trouble, but my teammates are capable of holding leads and even extending leads without me,” Whitaker said. “Of course it was frustrating not being out there, but my teammates did a great job of filling in for me.”
With Whitaker back in the fold in the third quarter, the Hawks were able to put Lincoln Park (7-6) away. Whitaker scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the third as the Hawks carried a 39-28 lead into the fourth quarter. Bartlett was able to effectively spread the floor out and milk the clock down the stretch to preserve the win.
“When they went to that zone, we were just attacking it more instead of just settling for three-point shots,” Whitaker said of the third quarter. That helped us a lot.”
Jon Moss added 15 points in the win for Bartlett.
The Hawks now gear up to play another powerful team in Oswego, which handled the hosts from Wheaton South in the quarterfinals Saturday.
“It will be a good game with Oswego,” Wolfsmith said. “We play teams like Oswego in our conference. It’s always good to play a top-level team because it gives you more experience for the postseason.”