HEADLINE: District dynamos
SUBHEAD: Eagles knock off 230 mates Stagg, Andrew
By Ken Karrson
What’s a little competition among friends?
Well, for Sandburg it was worthwhile because it brought about a lot of good feelings, something too often missing within the Eagles program of late. It’s not that Sandburg has played poorly; quite the contrary as it has seriously challenged every opponent that has crossed its path, including SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue heavyweights Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor.
But a batch of gut-wrenching losses -- four of them came by a total of just 10 points -- had understandably left the Eagles feeling a little shaken and in need of something positive to lift spirits. Enter District 230 sister schools Andrew and Stagg.
Naturally, neither game was one in which Sandburg ever got completely comfortable, but in both instances the Eagles had enough in their arsenal to finish the job. A face mask-wearing Tommy Demogerontas ignored a broken nose well enough to pace Sandburg in scoring twice and his team used that production as the springboard to a 63-57 verdict over the Thunderbolts last Tuesday and a 62-54 triumph over the Chargers on Friday.
Stagg had defeated the Eagles by 10 in an earlier confrontation, but Sandburg had one important thing going for it in the rematch.
“The difference in this game was we were able to hold Jeff Goral under 19 points in the first half,” Eagles coach Todd Allen said.
Goral spearheaded the Chargers’ previous performance by tallying a game-high 26 points. This time, with Sean McShane assigned to him on defense, Goral was held to 14 points, the same as sophomores John Contant and Josh Strama.
“He’s one of the best players in the conference and we made him work for his points,” Allen said of Goral.
Allen got no argument from coaching counterpart John Daniels.
“They locked Jeff and frustrated him early,” Daniels said. “They made it difficult [for him] to catch and face [the basket].”
McShane also helped out offensively with 11 points, nine of which came on three 3-point buckets. He was one of four Sandburg players in double figures along with Demogerontas (14 points), Niko Kogionis (12) and Peter Paxinos (10). Zak Razik contributed seven points.
Allen said a “21-point first quarter kind of set the tone” for the Eagles (10-14, 5-7), but even more telling was a second period in which four different players -- none of them named Kogionis -- sank a 3-pointer. Delivering on Sandburg’s behalf were McShane, Paxinos, Mo Abed and Kristijan Ristovski.
“The first game we were able to do some good things defensively,” Daniels said. “[Here] they got a couple bounces early and they hit some shots. Six different kids hit a 3 and seven kids scored -- I haven’t had seven kids score [in the same game] all season.
“I have a lot of respect for Todd and I’ve been saying all year they’re a solid team. I was disappointed in the way we played early, but it wasn’t our night.”
The Eagles were ahead by 12 at halftime and seven after three quarters. Stagg (11-15, 5-7) never faded away, but it remained a two-possession game pretty much until the end. Sandburg went 21-of-39 from the field, including 11-of-14 from inside the arc. The winners drilled a total of 10 3s.
“I always enjoy competing against Stagg because John always prepares his kids well,” Allen said. “[But] there are no surprises. It comes down to the kids executing.
“I’d like to say our kids deserved [the victory] because they never gave up and kept fighting [during the season’s low points]. The kids have done a nice job.”
Daniels said he was happy for Allen.
“I don’t know if people want me to hate [the Eagles] because they’re rivals, but it’s a healthy, fun rivalry,” Daniels said. “There’s no ill feelings. The kids are friends and I love their program and their players.
“It’s not a bitter thing and I’m glad it’s that way. It’s what high school basketball is supposed to be.”
The Chargers faced Joliet Central this past Tuesday and conclude their regular season versus Joliet West on Friday. Sandburg closes out with H-F and Bolingbrook, the latter due to visit Orland Park Friday.
The T’bolts are in the midst of a less-than-spectacular campaign, which gave Allen all the more reason to be wary of them last Tuesday. Simply put, he knew success against the Eagles would be a definite highlight for Andrew.
And when the T’Bolts nailed 6-of-10 shots in the opening frame, they pushed Sandburg into an early hole.
“I know their record isn’t real strong, but they came out and shot the ball real well,” Allen said. “I thought Andrew played really well.”
The turning point, in Allen’s view, was a third-quarter sequence that began with Kogionis’ three-point play, which lifted the Eagles into a 34-33 lead. At the end of that play, the T’bolts’ bench drew a technical foul and Kogionis nailed two more charity tosses.
Demogerontas’ hoop followed on the ensuing Sandburg possession and then Paxinos drilled a 3-pointer after the Eagles’ defense made a stop. The rapid 10-point flurry put Sandburg in control.
Demogerontas netted eight points during the third stanza, part of a 24-point, five-rebound outing for him. Kogionis (16 points) and Razik (10 points, five assists) were other key individuals for the Eagles, who hit 24-of-45 shots, committed only seven turnovers and scored their 63 points on just 59 possessions.
The T’bolts wound up going 23-of-42 from the floor. Two players accounted for all but 19 of their points.
Sandburg Scoring: T. Demogerontas 14, Kogionis 12, McShane 11, Paxinos 10, Razik 7, Abed 5, Ristovski 3.
Stagg Scoring: Contant 14, Goral 14, Strama 14.
Sandburg Scoring: T. Demogerontas 24, Kogionis 16, Razik 10, Abed 5, McShane 5, Paxinos 3. Rebounds: T. Demogerontas 5. Assists: Razik 5.