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Bartlett tops Palatine, salvages split
By Jerry Fitzpatrick | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/21/2013 11:54 PM

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Bartlett guard Lance Whitaker was leg weary from playing his second basketball game of the day and fourth in four days, but he hid it well.

Whitaker, committed to Illinois-Chicago, poured in a career-high 35 points to lead Bartlett to a 72-65 victory over Palatine as the Hawks claimed third place at the inaugural Wheaton Warrenville South Martin Luther King Tournament Monday.

Palatine (12-10) and Bartlett (17-5) traded leads four times in the third quarter with the Pirates taking their last lead, 42-40, on a conventional three-point play by 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart, who finished with a team-best 18 points.

That’s when Whitaker went super nova. After he was hit with a technical foul, the 6-4 senior nailed 6 straight shots — 3 of them tough fadeaways between 12 and 15 feet ­— and closed the third-quarter with a 3-pointer to stake Bartlett to a 51-48 advantage heading to the final period.

“I was able to find my rhythm, and part of it was that I didn’t want to lose 2 games in a row,” said Whitaker, whose team lost to Oswego in a semifinal earlier in the day. “That was something me and my teammates were definitely focused on. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and I was able to make some baskets.”

Whitaker’s 35 points tied the fourth-best, single-game performance in the program’s 15-year history. Anthony Maestranzi and 2009 graduate Marc Little co-own the school record with 38-point games, though Maestranzi did it twice during the 2001-02 season. Whitaker tied 2005 graduate Dan Joiner’s 35-point output.

“We know when he gets in a streak like that he’s unstoppable,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. “He’s 6-foot-4, 6-5 and he can rise up and shoot over everybody. When he strokes the mid-range jumper, you know you’re in trouble. He’s a dominant player and he was really battling fatigue.”

“He got going early and we thought there was something we could do to change it,” Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. “As the game went on I thought we actually did a fairly good job on him. He just started hitting tough shots. We wanted to take away his shots near the basket, which I thought we did early in the third quarter, but all the sudden he starts hitting pull-up jumpers. He’s a great player and he showed it.”

Bartlett senior guard Jon Moss (10 points) opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and Whitaker followed with another jump shot to put the Hawks ahead 56-48. It was Whitaker’s final basket of an 11-of-18 shooting performance.

Palatine drew within 68-63 on Chris Macahon’s 3-pointer with 1:07 to play, but Moss, hounded by Palatine’s half-court trap, turned and spotted senior Justin Busch in the paint for an off-balance layup with 53 seconds to play.

Busch subsequently sealed the win by drawing a charge against Smart at the other end with 46.5 remaining.

“We talked at halftime that (Smart) will either try to get to the basket or pull up for a floater, and both of those are good opportunities to take a charge,” Busch said. “I was in position, stepped up and took the charge. Just doing what I was supposed to do to help our team pull out the game.”

Senior forward Josh Baldus finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds for Palatine, which returns to Mid-Suburban League play against visiting Conant on Thursday at 7: 30 p.m.

Bartlett returns to the court for a UEC Valley game at Waubonsie Valley on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. before hosting South Elgin Saturday at 6 p.m.

“No rest for the wicked this week,” Wolfsmith said.

Oswego 62, Bartlett 43: Bartlett’s 7-game winning streak was snapped by Oswego in a semifinal of the Wheaton Warrenville South MLK Tournament Monday afternoon.

Senior guard Lance Whitaker led the Hawks with 21 points on 6-of-15 shooting and gathered 8 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to offset the Oswego trio of Miles Simelton (23 points), Elliot McGaughy (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) and Darion Reddick (13 points).

Oswego (16-2) jumped to an early 12-point lead, but Bartlett drew within 24-19 with 2:34 left in the second quarter, thanks to 7 straight points from Whitaker. However, the Panthers closed the half on a 9-3 run to grab a 33-22 lead at intermission and never allowed Bartlett within 8 points of the lead thereafter.

“We had our chance when we got it down to 5 points in the second quarter,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said, “but then they were able to expand it to 11 at the half. You can’t chase a team like that. They’re too fast, too quick. If you chase a team like that, you’re in trouble. Hopefully, we’ll learn from it and take that lesson into the postseason.”

Oswego went on to defeat Metea Valley 54-38 in the tournament championship game.