CRETE | As Illinois Lutheran coach Mark Kjenstad said after the game, tonight was a good night.
The Chargers topped Beecher 70-48 in River Valley Conference action, while the teams were able to raise over $1,000 on the night to donate to Crete-Monee Special Olympics and Homewood-Flossmoor's Young Athletes. Illinois Lutheran's Mack Newson led all scorers with 23 points, while teammate Collin Borns scored 21, including shooting 9-of-9 from the free throw line.
"It was a great night all around," Kjenstad said. "The best part of the night was raising a lot of money for the Special Olympics kids. We played really hard tonight, and we shot really well at the free throw line. Mack had some great plays to set some guys up."
The Chargers (11-3, 6-1) led by 11 at the half, and a 12-2 run to start the third quarter quickly pushed the Illinois Lutheran lead to over 20. The Chargers were able to use their defense to help get the game moving in transition, and Beecher (4-14, 1-6) was unable to keep up with Newson baseline to baseline.
"I saw our defense playing well tonight," Newson said. "We were moving the ball around and attacking the gaps. We're starting to gel a lot more. We're starting to play better on defense, and it showed today. We were hustling, and it felt good."
Beecher struggled to maintain its composure in the second half and was unable to get into a good rhythm offensively throughout the night.
"Defensively, I expected more out of us tonight," Beecher coach Tony Waznonis said. "We scored 48 without any kind of a rhythm. There's shots that Newson is going to hit because he's a great player. We didn't deal with that well, and we lost our composure on the offensive end. You need to have mental toughness."
The night was a success for the Crete-Monee Special Olympics who were on hand to take part in pregame and halftime ceremonies.
"I was really happy with the turnout," Kjenstad said. "I don't know how much money we raised, but it was a good chunk. We try to do something as a basketball team to give back once in a while. So to me, it was an easy choice."