PARK FOREST | Trailing by a point at the half, T.F. South boys basketball coach John O'Rourke was concerned.
"Rich East simply out hustled us in the second quarter," O'Rourke said. "We always talk about the three minutes starting the third quarter as the most important."
That's when the Rockets scored the bulk of their points in an 11-3 run commencing late in the second half, one punctuated by the 3-pointer of Quin Moore (21 points). That allowed the Rockets (13-3) to race ahead to a 46-39 lead as they beat T.F. South 76-65 on Monday night. The score sat at 37-36 at the break, Rich East leading after trailing for much of the first half.
"Defensively, I thought our effort was sub-par in the second half," O'Rourke said.
More than three minutes determined the final outcome. The Rebels (10-11) turned the ball over 25 times, at least, 15 giveaways coming in the second half. And they were 9 of 22 from the free-throw line. No team can win doing that, and with Rich East pressing at times in the second half, once the Rockets led by more than two possessions, they were invincible.
The 19-point effort of Donald Stone and the 18 points from Ka-Ton Mays went for naught as a result, and he ended up holding his left side in the final minutes after getting hammered going to the basket. Desuan Taylor added 17 for the Rebels, who, thanks to the storm-tossed schedule, are back in action Wednesday in Tinley Park.
"Despite our 30 turnovers, if we shoot the free throws better and make layups, we're right in the game," O'Rourke said. "There are so many ifs in this game."
The Rebels committed 25 turnovers and went 9-of-22 from the line.