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South Elgin coach Chaz Taft knew there were few if any surprises between his team and conference rival Lake Park.
In the third-place game of Fenton's Chuck Mitchell Thanksgiving Tournament, the Storm got it in the form of a 45-40 loss to the Lancers Friday in Bensonville.
“It’s another [Upstate Eight] Valley school, and everything is cutthroat,” Taft said. “It’s a rivalry game."
In a game punctuated by hard play and flashes of feisty defensive play that swung back-and-forth for both teams, South Elgin (2-2) tied the game at 40-40 on two free throws from Matt Smith (12 points) late in the contest. They struggled to find a decent shot to the final buzzer.
Lake Park’s Carlos Cortez (13 points) hit his fourth three-pointer of the night to give his side a lead at 43-40 that it would not relinquish in the game’s final two minutes.
“We fell short,” Smith said. “We have to work on our offense and on knowing where the options are. But I felt like the team played pretty good defense today.”
Lake Park led 24-13 at halftime, with Lancers’ center Jake Ktsanes netting 11 of his 14 points before the break. The Storm held the Lancers to four points in the third quarter, but gave up 17 points in the fourth and struggled offensively down the stretch.
With Smith, Darius Wells (14 points), Matt McClure (8 points), and Jacob Hicks, South Elgin has no shortage of guards able to handle the ball. But Taft wants one of them to take the next step.
“We need a point guard that’s going to get the ball to the middle of the floor to initiate our offense,” Taft said. “We need someone who wants the ball and who is going to sacrifice personal stats for getting the team organized and running our offense.
“We ran the break and we played some pretty good defense today.
"The question is, where are we going to get our shots from?”