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Despite being out of contention for the championship at the Jacobs Holiday Classic, Bartlett continued to make the most of a less-than-ideal situation with a 66-56 win over Elk Grove on Friday.
It was the Hawks’ second straight win since a heartbreaking last-second loss to Barrington on Wednesday ended their title hopes. Senior Lance Whitaker had a game high 28 points to lead Bartlett (11-4). The Hawks are now 3-1 in the tournament and will play Jacobs at 4:30 p.m. for the A Bracket Consolation title (5th place overall in the 16-team field).
The Hawks squandered a 42-32 third quarter lead as Elk Grove rallied to tie the game at 51-51 with 6:32 left to play on a three-point play from Brian Kelly. However, the Hawks regrouped to outscore Elk Grove 15-5 down the stretch.
“We have a bad habit of giving up leads,” said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. “We’ve talked a lot about closing out games. Today we were able to get it turned around just in time. There are two things you have to do when closing out a game and that is hit free throws and make good decisions with the basketball.
“Even though we missed a few free throws we played smart down the stretch.”
Whitaker was a consistent scoring threat throughout the game starting with 11 points in the first half. He scored the Hawks’ final five points in the last two minutes of the game on a backdoor layup, a putback basket, and a free throw to help seal the win.
“The way we were able to get the lead back is a testament to our chemistry both on and off the court,” said Whitaker. “I was in a bit of a rhythm from the start, so I was trying to get as many shots as I could. My teammates knew I was feeling it and helped get me more shots.”
Marcus Aluquin put the Hawks back in the lead for good 53-51 with a pullup jumper with 6:04 left to play. Jon Moss added a clutch three-pointer during the fourth quarter run.
“That’s why Lance, Jon, and Marcus are captains for us,” said Wolfsmith. “Those are the guys we want finishing for us.”