Nazareth can’t hold onto early lead, falls to Stagg
PALOS HILLS — After falling behind by 17 points in the first quarter, the Stagg boys basketball team didn’t give up Saturday.
“There really was a lot of basketball left,” Chargers coach John Daniels said.
Stagg’s opponent, Nazareth, which seemed so unbeatable in the first quarter, seemed so vulnerable the remaining three quarters. The Chargers rallied and defeated the Roadrunners 66-54 to win their own McBride Thanksgiving Classic for the third time in the last four years.
Senior Sean Dwyer (12 rebounds) led the comeback, scoring eight of his 15 points in the first half, and was named tournament MVP.
Stagg (4-0) went on a 16-3 run in the second quarter and opened the second half with an 18-2 run to take control.
“Whenever they put on a spurt, we didn’t handle it as well as we needed,” Nazareth coach John N. Bonk said.
The Chargers’ comeback was aided by a pair of adjustments: They stayed away from Nazareth’s 7-foot Tyler Jackson (eight points, six rebounds) and they limited Nazareth’s 3-pointers.
Jackson’s wingspan forced Stagg to adjust many of its shots. Kevin White scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter with Jackson on the bench while Max Strus had 16 points and Kamil Barnas added 12 points. Strus and White were named to the all-tournament team with Nazareth’s Dan Kienzle, John R. Bonk and Kevin Connelly. Bonk had 11 points and Tim Kuckailis had 10 points for the Roadrunners (3-1).
Nazareth, which led 21-4 with 2:11 remaining in the first quarter, made 8-of-26 3-pointers in the game, but shot 3-for-15 in the second half. Kuckailis made the first two baskets of the fourth quarter to pull the Roadrunners to within 48-41, but Stagg responded with a pair of free throws from both White and Strus.
Stagg also led the battle at the free-throw line, converting 17-of-21 foul shots. Nazareth shot 4-of-6 at the line.