CRYSTAL LAKE – Forward Steven Ticknor’s 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter was both a pivotal moment and a snapshot of everything that went right for Prairie Ridge.
Forward Ryan Gilbert had a quality shot, but whipped a pass instead to Ticknor at the top of the key. Ticknor nailed the shot for a four-point lead, and Crystal Lake South never had another shot at taking the lead.
The basket came in a pivotal nine-point run for the Wolves, who held off South, 71-65, in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball game Monday at Gator Alley.
“That was wonderful,” said Ticknor, who scored 18 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. “I was happy Ryan made that extra pass because he could have taken that shot and buried it, too. I was just happy to make it for the team.”
The Wolves (9-7 overall, 1-2 FVC Valley) bounced back from Friday’s 55-29 loss to Cary-Grove and thought sharing the ball was key.
“We’ve been up and down most of the year, hopefully we can string some good efforts in a row,” Prairie Ridge coach Corky Card said. “That’s probably the best we’ve played together. We really moved the ball well on offense and we made a lot of extra passes.”
Card said he was not worried about a division game as much as just having the Wolves give their best effort. They shot 16 of 25 in the second half to overcome a strong shooting night from South, which was 22 of 38 from the field (for 57.9 percent) and hit 11 3-pointers.
The lead changed four times early in the fourth quarter before Prairie Ridge, trailing 56-53, put together its key spurt.
“It was a thrill [to play in that game],” Wolves guard Payton Otto said. “Those games that are close and back and forth like that are why I love basketball so much. The pace of the game and fast speed pumps your adrenaline up.”
South’s Chris Mahoney and Otto traded 3s back and forth to start the quarter. Mahoney, who scored 18 points on six 3s, gave South (11-4, 1-2) a 54-50 lead with his third 3 of the quarter before Otto answered with his second.
The Gators’ Caleb Johnson scored on a layup, but Prairie Ridge reeled off its 9-0 run. South had a shot to tie in the final minute, but Tyler Baker’s 3 from the left corner bounced off the rim and Wolves forward Jack Berg rebounded and was fouled.
“We knew we didn’t play as well as we could on Friday,” Ticknor said. “We thought we’d just play all out tonight. South’s had a great record and a great season, we just played as hard as we could.”
Michael Bradshaw led the Wolves with 23 points, while Otto added 13. Forward Austin Rogers led the Gators with 20 points and Collin Wagner hit three 3s and finished with 10.
“They made some big shots and they got rolling,” Gators coach Matt LePage said. “We had way too many turnovers, 23 in our own gym. That was a big factor. Defensively, 46 in the second half is about as bad as it gets. It was way too easy for them, but give PR credit.”