CRETE | Crete-Monee's Mike Nelson certainly took coach Tom Cappel's advice early in Tuesday night's matchup against T.F. South.
Nelson responded to an early benching and talk by Cappel and finished with a game-high 23 points to lead the Warriors to a 63-50 win over the Rebels. He scored 14 in the second half.
Tyler Williams added 14 points for Crete-Monee, and center Rashad Lee chipped in nine points and 12 rebounds.
"The first quarter I started off slow and coach took me out of the game," Nelson said. "He said pick it up. Coming off of the loss against Bloom, we wanted to start off strong."
The Warriors (14-11) led by five heading into the half and opened up a seven point lead after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, both defenses struggled to make stops, and the game was marred by fouls.
Crete-Monee played again without starting forward Brandon Johnson, who is academically ineligible. The Warriors will find out Friday if Johnson is able to return this season.
"A win is a win," Cappel said after the game. "I'd rather play ugly than lose it. I'm proud of the kids. Nelson played terrific. We hope we're starting to gel, getting ready for the tournament."
T.F. South (12-13) was unable to find a rhythm offensively and struggled to hit shots against the Warriors' 2-3 zone. Donald Stone came off the Rebel bench to lead the team with 14 points. Ka-Ton Mays added 13 points and four steals for T.F. South.
"No energy, no hustle, no heart," Rebels coach John O'Rourke said after the loss. "You can have the best plays in the world, but if you don't have guys out there working together, it's just five individuals on the floor."
Wednell Daniels and Jamahre Baker each finished with eight points for T.F. South. O'Rourke said after the game that his team may still be reeling from a tough South Suburban Blue loss last Friday night to Lemont.
"What I saw was embarrassing," O'Rourke said. "We had a terrible practice yesterday and more of the same today. I don't know if the guys are looking back to last Friday still and our shortcomings in that game, but tonight's poor performance was flat-out unacceptable."