CRYSTAL LAKE – After losing its first 20 games of the season, the Crystal Lake Central boys basketball team won its second straight game Wednesday, beating Marengo, 46-42.
Cavanagh Murphy led the Tigers (2-20) with 12 points, and Jack Ortner added 10. Murphy said the Tigers' defense, especially late in the game, helped fuel the nonconference victory.
“Coach told us we turned them over like seven times in the fourth (quarter),” Murphy said. “We knew it would be tough, but defense is the key to us winning more games. We did that tonight, and I think that helped us relax a little more on the offensive end.”
The Indians (14-10) committed two of those seven turnovers in the final 10 seconds. The first was after a full timeout when trailing, 45-42, with 22.1 seconds remaining. Marengo coach Will Benson said the Tigers deserved credit for their ability to make plays when it mattered.
“I thought our guys played extremely hard,” Benson said. “I don’t think the effort was the issue as much as our execution, especially late in the game. They hit a big 3 toward the end, and we couldn’t get up a shot on our end. Execution really hurt us tonight.”
That "big 3" came from junior Jon Ryberg with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 38. Murphy took a charge on the following possession, and the next play resulted in a basket by junior guard Derek Olson, who was fouled but was unable to convert the free throw. The Tigers never trailed after that basket.
The Indians tied the score on their next possession on a layup by 6-foot-6 senior center Andrew Volkening, who finished with 12 points. Marengo was led by Max Kunde with 16 points, including two 3-pointers.
“Max is probably our most underrated player,” Benson said. “He played really well tonight and always gives 110 percent no matter where he is on the court.”
The Tigers gave Marengo several chances at the end, after going just 6 of 11 from the free throw line in the fourth.
“I think [Marengo is] a really good team,” Central coach Rich Czeslawski said. “Our kids did a real nice job of covering up what we needed to and make things difficult for them inside. Volkening is a good player and we weren’t going to stop him, but just try and make things as tough as possible for him.”
The Tigers head to Grayslake on Saturday for a Fox Valley Conference Fox Division game against Grayslake North. Marengo will be at Rockford Christian on Friday.