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Maine South's George Sargeant grabs a rebound against Niles West during a basketball game in Skokie, Friday, January 25, 2013 I David Banks~for Sun-Times Media
The Maine South and Niles West boys basketball teams have played eight quarters this season and, in the last seven, the Hawks' zone defense has been almost impenetrable.
Maine South provided a convincing encore to its 10-point victory over the Wolves on Dec. 7 – Niles West scored just five field goals in the final three quarters of that contest – on Friday night. The Hawks held the Wolves to 12 first-half points and Maine South used a dominant fourth quarter to pull away for a 50-29 victory.
“Our defense, we've been doing a really good job this year,” Maine South senior Frank Dounis said. “We've been making teams score low points against us. But against Niles West, it's a good transition team with great athletes. We just have to make sure we get back on defense and make them play half-court offense because we [do] a great job closing out on shots and talking on defense.”
Despite being limited to four field goals in the game's first 16 minutes, Niles West (11-9, 1-6 CSL South) only trailed 18-12 at halftime. The Wolves used a three-pointer by junior Ahmad Gibson near the end of the third quarter to close its deficit to 32-25 heading into the game's final eight minutes.
But Maine South coupled its suffocating defense with punishing offensive execution to pull away in the fourth quarter. The Hawks (20-3, 6-1) outscored the Wolves 18-4 in the fourth.
Dounis scored all 12 of his points in the final two periods, and senior John Solari scored half of his game-high 18 points in the second half. Both players were able to regularly get into the paint in the second half thanks to the Hawks' transition offense and crisp execution in the half-court.
“I liked how we started our third,” Maine South coach Tony Lavorato Jr. said. “We got a little breathing room in the third. They did a nice job and came back just a little bit. But I thought we were able to withstand their pressure defensively and then our stops and our ability to clear boards kind of wore them down inside.”
Maine South senior Danny Quinn and Solari both grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. The Hawks out rebounded Niles West, 26-13.