LOCKPORT - Plainfield North's boys basketball team traveled to meet Lockport in a nonconference game on Tuesday and came away with a 55-54 victory.
You can pick any of the following that proved to be the difference – the free throw line, a buzzer-beating shot at the end of the half and the inside play of the Tigers.
Tiger senior Carter Thurman scored 22 points as they came from everywhere on the floor as he hit two threes, was a presence inside and was 7-of-10 from the free throw line.
"We got off to a slow start tonight, much like we have all season so far, but we really wanted this game tonight," Thurman said. "They [Lockport] beat us last year in overtime and we had a little revenge on our mind tonight.
"This was the first time all season we have really faced a big man in the middle and we knew [Tom] Halatek was good and would be a great test for us. We watched film on Lockport, so we were ready for some of the things they were going to do."
North (3-3) trailed for most of the game and briefly got its first lead at the start of the third quarter as Cooper Bridges (11 points) hit a shot to give the Tigers a 28-27 lead. Thurman then scored five points and the Tigers led 35-30 with 4:35 left in the third.
But the Porters (4-2) scored 11 consecutive points, as Halatek (10 points) scored four and Jake Karli (17 points) scored five during the run to give Lockport a 41-35 lead with 1:33 left. The Tigers closed that gap to 41-40 on a three by Thurman and two free throws by Adebayo Kuye.
Billy Connors (10 points) then went to work as he hit three baskets in a two-minute span to give the Tigers a 48-44 lead. The 6-8 Connors could not hit a basket in the first half from inside the paint, but hit the critical fourth quarter shots.
"It was really frustrating in the first half not to hit a shot," Connors said. "We practice that everyday and I'm usually on and it started to play with my head. But I knew in the fourth quarter I needed to hit those for the team. Once I hit that first one I relaxed and did what I was suppose to do."
Lockport led by 11 points with 5:36 left before the half at 20-9, but Thurman scored nine points in the quarter and Bridges hit a shot from just inside the midcourt line as the buzzer went off for the half and the Tigers were back in the game trailing 27-26.
In that second quarter, the Tigers were 9-of-12 from the free throw line and finished the game 19-of-28. Lockport never attempted a free throw until the 6:38 mark of the fourth quarter and finished making 3-of-5 for the game.
"We knew we wanted to attack the middle of their zone and we finally did o good job of doing that in the second quarter," Tiger coach Bob Krahulik said. "It seemed like they [Lockport] were settling for the three point shot and we did a good job of attacking and getting to the free throw line. We were pretty aggressive in the first half and this was the first game we faced a big man in the middle, but we didn't change anything.
"It was great to see Billy [Connors] step up in the fourth quarter after nothing would fall early. He works on those shots all the time and never misses like he did early tonight. Carter has really played well and picked up his game ever since our Thanksgiving tournament."
The Porters scored the first six points of the game and looked in control until the fourth quarter.
"Plainfield North is a solid team and we knew it would be tough, but we just didn't play particularly well tonight," Lockport coach Brett Hespell said. "We had too many errors that we have to clean up. We had double digit leads a couple of different times and you have to continue doing what got you there.
"These kids are still learning how to win, yes, we have a veteran group, but they haven't been in these situations much. There are game this year that we did win down the stretch, but tonight we let one get away. Sometimes you have to go through this to get better and I'm hoping we learn from this tonight."