CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake South guard Nick Geske had a pretty good idea where he would be spending some time this afternoon.
“I”ll probably be in the gym, working on free throws,” the 6-foot senior said.
Getting to the line was no problem for Geske. And while he hit 10 of 19 shots when he was there, it seemed his lone shortcoming Saturday night as the Gators defeated Libertyville, 65-57, in a nonconference boys basketball game at Gator Alley.
Geske, who sprained his left ankle in a preseason practice, played 11⁄2 games in the Batavia Thanksgiving tournament last week. South (2-2) was glad to see Geske nearer full speed, as it grabbed an early advantage and led the entire game.
“We really worked the ball around well and got good shots,” said Geske, who led all players with 22 points. “We got a lot of fast-break layups by pushing it up the court and hit some clutch 3s.”
The Wildcats (1-4) hacked South’s 12-point lead to 56-52 with 1:51 remaining, but the Gators made their next four free throws to hold on.
“We did what we needed to do at the end,” first-year South coach Matt LePage said. “I was happy and encouraged with the intensity we came out with. We hadn’t played for a week and they wanted to play two days ago. We had a great five days of practice.”
Max Meitzler and Austin Rogers each added 10 points. Eric Schiller scored seven and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
“That’s what we’ve been practicing every day, up and down [the court],” Schiller said. “Pig in is coach’s motto. It means don’t chicken out, just get in and give it all you have until you need someone else to come in.”
The Gators finished 19 of 34 from the line – 11 of 22 in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats (11 of 21) were not better, but they hit three of their 3-pointers in the fourth to cut into South’s lead.
“We missed so many layups and they made us pay for it,” Wildcats coach Scott Bogumil said. “If we make some more free throws and some layups, it’s a different situation and maybe we’re not chasing as much. We just couldn’t finish.”
Matthew Varner hit 8 of 12 field goals and led Libertyville with 20 points.
“Like coach says, we have to cut the snake’s head off better,” Schiller said. “We have to learn how to shoot free throws, we’re usually better than that.”