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Palatine boys basketball coach Eric Millstone noted that it’s nice to have a team full of guys that can shoot the ball, but you better have a point guard that can get them the ball.
Fortunately for Millstone, he has sophomore Chris Macahon at his disposal.
Macahon himself scored 13 points in the Pirates’ 76-59 win over Plainfield Central at Wheaton Warrenville South’s inaugural MLK Tournament Saturday. But it was his court vision that helped the Pirates drill 10 three-pointers, including a blistering 6-of-7 mark from junior Dondre Watson, in the win. Palatine will face Metea Valley in the tournament semifinals Monday at 11:45 a.m.
“We’ve got a point guard that just makes everybody better,” Millstone said. “I think Chris has really set the tempo for what we’re trying to do this season. Very unselfish and he’s good at finding the open man. He can score more than he is, but he’s so unselfish I can’t say enough about what he’s done this season.”
Early on, the two teams were evenly matched, each waiting for a spark to get things going. Palatine (12-8 overall) got the break they needed when Plainfield Central (6-10) was assessed a technical foul for not having a player in the official scorebook. Oddly enough, that set off a 23-10 run that gave Palatine a 34-24 lead with 4 minutes left in the first half.
“We were looking for something to get us going because we came out flat,” Millstone said. “It just so happened that a mistake turned out to be something that got us going.”
That wasn’t all that got the Pirates going, however. Watson came off the bench and drilled four of his three-pointers in the first half. He wound up tying with sophomore Roosevelt Smart for team-high scoring honors with 20 points.
“I got the hot hand and they just kept giving it to me,” Watson said. “Once you make one, you get the confidence to make the next one. I just kept on getting more and more confidence every time and it felt good coming off.”
Plainfield Central cut the lead to 48-43 in the third, but another barrage of three-pointers helped Palatine extend the lead for good. Watson hit two three-pointers and Smart and Jordan Jarrett each hit threes as well as part of a 15-0 run that pushed the lead to 63-43 early in the fourth.
Plainfield Central entered the game allowing only 52 points per game defensively, which got under the skin of coach Steve Lamberti.
“We knew they could shoot, but clearly you have to contest,” Lamberti said. “When you let the point guard do what he wants, it’s a lot easier for him to find those open men. We just talked to them, it’s an amnesia game. We forget about it. Our goal is to come in and get two wins on Monday and that’s all we can do now.”
Mitch Young led all scorers for the Wildcats with 22 points. Curtis Harrington added 11 points.