JOLIET – “Shine bright like a diamond.”
In another edition of “The Plainfield Civil War” between host South and visiting North on Friday night, the opening line of music diva Rihanna’s mega-hit ”Diamonds” seemed appropriate.
After being held to five first-half points and his Cougars trailing the Tigers, 36-34, at halftime, South’s leading scorer, 6-foot-3 Diamond Presniakovas, began to shine.
Presniakovas, who finished with 22 points and hit five 3-pointers in a 65-59 victory, buried four 3-pointers and outscored the Tigers, 14-6, by himself in the third quarter as the Cougars (3-13, 2-5) grabbed a 52-42 lead after the frame.
“I really got hot in the third quarter. I just couldn’t miss. It felt great,” Presniakovas said. “We played very hard tonight on offense and defense. This was a great win for us.”
With 4:16 left in the game, Cougars junior Levert Shields (16 points,
three 3s, six rebounds, two steals) nailed his third 3-pointer, second in the fourth quarter, to open a 60-47 lead.
“We played smart tonight,” Shields said. “My job is to knock down threes for us. I was able to do it all week in practice and transformed my outside shooting to the game. It was a great win.”
Led by 6-3 senior Brady Miller (25 points, seven rebounds, five blocked shots, two steals, three assists), the Tigers (8-9, 2-5) closed to within 60-56 with a minute remaining.
With 49 seconds left and South leading, 61-56, Cougars junior guard Austin Richardson, finished off the Tigers with a steal and score for a 63-56 lead. Those were the only two points for Richardson.
“I wanted to apply a lot of defensive pressure,” Richardson said, “It felt great to come up with the big steal and score for us.”
Miller scored 11 first-quarter points but was matched by South freshman Cooper Schmid (11 points, three 3-pointers, three rebounds) as South grabbed a 23-21 first-quarter lead.
North had a 36-34 lead at halftime behind Miller and Carter Thurman (16 points, three rebounds).
South sophomore Tyrell Ross-Childs (13 points, three steals, three rebounds), buried a pair of threes and scored eight of his 13 points in the second quarter.
North’s Matt O’Boye chipped in eight points, six rebounds and three assists.
“Give credit to Plainfield South for hitting their shots,” Plainfield North coach Bob Krahulik said. “We played very poorly tonight on defense. We gave South open looks and they knocked them down.”
“We must get better at handling the ball,” Miller said. “I made too many turnovers. We fought hard to come back, but we were just too far behind.”
“We won this game back on Wednesday,” South coach Tim Boe said. “We had the best two practices of the season Wednesday and Thursday and brought it to the court tonight. We played outstanding defense – 27 forced turnovers was outstanding. We shot well, too.”