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Palatine Rebounds With Convincing Win

The last time the Hawks and Pirates met, it took two overtimes for Palatine to emerge as the victor.

Not this time.

Behind a superb team effort defensively, the Pirates (14-10, 5-3) put the clamps on the Hawks Friday night en route to a 41-29 home victory. They remain one game behind conference-leading Barrington (18-4, 6-2) in the MSL West race.

"We had a battle with Hoffman last time we played them, and know what they're capable of," said Pirates head coach Eric Millstone. "They've had a couple of pretty good offensive games, so we wanted to emphasize getting out on their shooters and finish possessions."

They did all of the above while limiting the Hawks to 5-for-18 shooting from the field in the first half and 12-for-41 for the game.

"Our defense looks better when the other team misses shots, but I think it was a combination of them missing and our defense having something to do with that," said Millstone.

The Hawks (10-11, 2-6) hung tough in the early going and only trailed 8-7 with 3 minutes to go in the first quarter after Marquez Woodard's (6 points, 5 steals) steal and finish, but they would get no closer. The Pirates used a 6-0 spurt to end the stanza, which was capped off by Lamon Berry's steal and layup to lead 14-7 after one. Berry had a game-high 12 points on the night.

Palatine led wire-to-wire and capitalized on a sloppy second quarter by the Hawks to extend its lead to 22-13 at the half on junior big man David Balanganayi's (4 points) bucket at the halftime buzzer.

After a relatively quiet first half from recent Butler commit Johnny O'Shea (8 points, 6 in the second half), the senior got it going early in the third with a pair of buckets down low, assisted by recent Western Michigan commit, Jake Moertl (4 points), to put the Pirates ahead 26-15 with 5:33 left in the third.

"We were focused in practice to play all four quarters tonight," said O'Shea. "We didn't get out to as big of a lead on them as last time (Palatine led 15-0 early in the second of the last meeting), but we knew Hoffman, or any other MSL West team, always fights to the last second…so I credit my team for putting in a solid effort tonight."

The Hawks then missed 5 consecutive shots in a 4-minute scoring drought and trailed 28-15 before Rudra Patel's 3-pointer with less than a minute to go cut the deficit to 28-18 heading into the final frame.

And as woeful as the Hawks shooting was at times, the team continued to remain within striking distance. They trailed 30-22 with 4:46to go until O'Shea found Cortez Hogans (4 points) for an easy score inside that got the lead back to double-digits.

The Pirates then went 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to ice the game and give the team a much-needed victory after last Friday's loss to the hands of Barrington.

"Tonight was a good step forward after the loss last week to Barrington," said O'Shea. "We're headed in the right direction and playing well towards the end of the season which is good to see."

Palatine will host Fremd next Friday at 7:30 p.m. and look to avenge a 47-21 loss from earlier in the season.

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