PLAINFIELD – It was a tale of two halves Friday as Plainfield North hosted Romeoville in a Southwest Prairie Conference game.
North (9-10, 1-3) controlled the first half behind 17 points from Carter Thurman and led, 26-18, at the break. Thurman hit five 3-pointers in the half, and his fifth one put the Tigers up, 24-12, to give them their largest lead with 3:04 left in the half.
But in the second half, Romeoville (12-5, 3-1) cut the lead to 35-30 at the end of three as it held the Tigers without a field goal until Harrison Pfeifer hit a shot with 2:28 left in the quarter.
Then, a 13-0 run early in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as the Spartans won, 50-41.
“We told the kids at halftime that Thurman would hopefully cool off and that we had to make free throws and layups, which we didn’t do in the first half, to get back in the game,” Romeoville coach Marc Howard said. “We let Thurman get too many good looks in the first half, and he knocked them down, but hats off to our kids as they came out, ran our offense and did everything I ask to get back in this game. We know how we want to play, and we did that in the second half.
“We haven’t been playing well lately, and we had to get that monkey off our back and try to find a way to get back to the way we were playing together at the beginning of the season. We wanted to get that winning feeling again, and hopefully we got that tonight, and we can carry this forward.”
The five Romeoville starters accounted for 47 of the team’s 50 points with Destin Whitaker getting 12, Ikenna Okeke, Mike Salter and Noah Ferrell each scoring nine, and Zach Gibson chipping in with eight points.
A big difference in the second half was the rebounding of Ferrell and Gibson, who combined for 17 boards.
“Zach and I want to control the boards each game,” Ferrell said, who had nine rebounds. “I enjoy a physical game, and tonight was fun because it was clean and physical. Winning tonight was everything as we were on the road in a conference game, and we had to get back to winning.
“We want to turn the corner on our season and get back to the way we can play.”
Gibson, who had eight boards and scored five fourth-quarter points, takes great pride in rebounding.
“It takes effort to be a great rebounder all game long,” Gibson said. “Anyone can rebound, but I want to do it the entire game. We had a tough four-game stretch, and this was the first step in getting back to the way we are capable of playing, and our goal since the beginning is to have a great tournament run and make it to state.”
Thurman, who scored four in the second half to finish with 21 points, made a basket to start the fourth quarter to give the Tigers a 37-30 lead but they wouldn’t score again until the 1:43 mark, and by then, the Spartans held a four-point lead. Romeoville then hit on 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“We couldn’t buy a basket in the second half,” North coach Bob Krahulik said. “Our defense played well, but we had a couple of second half breakdowns that hurt, especially when your not scoring.
“The defense did a tremendous job in the first half and we knocked down the shots. We shot 33 percent from the field, and you can’t win doing that, but we were still in the game. We had good looks, but the shots wouldn’t fall and everyone went cold in the second half.”
Also for North, Matt O’Boye scored eight points, and Cooper Bridges had six rebounds.