Palatine showed that this certainly is a different boys basketball team from a year ago, when the Pirates won just three games.
The Pirates dug thumselves out of numerous holes Saturday only to lose in overtime 71-63 to Niles North in the third-place game of the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic at Palatine.
We have a lot of resolve, Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. We are not going to quit. When you have that, you have the makings of something good.
Palatine (2-2) fell behind early, turning the ball over on its first three possessions. The Pirates then rallied to tie the game at 9-9 on a basket by Jason Jablonski with 3:45 left in the first quarter.
Palatine suffered a blow when Josh Baldus picked up his second foul. With the 6-foot-5 Baldus on the bench, Niles North (3-1) began to attack inside as the Vikings opened a 22-15 lead with 7:04 left in the second quarter.
Palatine then began to dig in defensively against the Vikings. The Pirates forced 8 turnovers before the end of the half and held Niles North to just 1 field goal. Palatine, meanwhile, began to find its stroke, tying the game at 26-26 at the break.
We have a group that believes in themselves, Millstone said. We need to fix a few things, but I believe we will be a good team.
The Pirates could not sustain their good play to begin the second half, turning the ball over on their first four possessions. Niles North was able to build a 33-26 lead with 5:57 left in the third quarter.
Palatine trailed 35-28 with 5:05 left in the quarter, when the Pirates began to take advantage of the 6 missed free throws by the Vikings earlier in the quarter. Led by Roosevelt Smart and Chris Macahon, the Pirates pulled ahead 38-37 late in the third quarter.
They put a lot of pressure on me, Macahon said. I was looking for Roosevelt and he came through for us.
Niles North chipped ahead and appeared to put the game away when they led 56-50 with 22.2 seconds left. With the Pirates trailing 56-54 with two seconds left, Smart attempted a 3-pointer. His shot missed, but Nolan Gavin rebounded the ball and put it back up as the buzzer sounded and then exploded with joy as it dropped trough to send the game into overtime.
I was just trying to get into a position to make a play, Gavin said. I put it up and hoped that it would go in.
Niles North scored the first 5 points of overtime and took control from there. The Vikings hit 10 of 12 free throws in the final period to secure the victory.
We are playing more as a team this year, said Smart, who finished with 28 points, including 3 treys. We have a lot more confidence out there.