Somewhere, Phog Allen is smiling.
The legendary collegiate coach, who once plied his trade at William Chrisman High School, probably would have loved the way coach Jake Kates’ team dismantled a solid Oak Park team Tuesday night, turning a 28-9 first-period lead into a 74-44 running-clock Suburban Middle Seven Conference victory.
The Bears picked more pockets than the Artful Dodger in the opening two minutes of the game, turning seven thefts into an 11-0 lead the Northmen found insurmountable.
“All we did over the (holiday) break was practice and work on a new pressure defense,” said senior guard Isaiah Jackson, who finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five steals despite playing only three quarters.
“This was the first game we really got to try it, and it worked. I don’t know if we’ve ever played a better quarter than our first quarter tonight. Everything was working and everyone was involved offensively and defensively.”
Kates put six Bears on the floor in the first quarter and each player scored and had at least one rebound or one steal.
“We like to say the ball is energy, and we were feeling a lot of energy tonight,” added Alex Calhoun, who scored five of his 14 points in the first quarter.
“Coach Kates likes to get everyone involved. He feels like we share the energy and spread the energy when we’re all involved and we were all involved tonight, especially in the first quarter and the first half.”
The Bears took a 45-19 lead into halftime and never looked back, as they improved to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in conference.
“We took care of business tonight, and we took care of business as a team, with everyone contributing,” Kates said. “The first quarter was the best basketball we’ve played all year, and we’ve played some pretty good basketball.
“Oak Park came out and hit some big shots in the third quarter (scoring 18 points), but we had that big lead and we were making a lot of substitutions. I wasn’t too happy about it, but those things can happen when you play a good team.
“But we’re going to win a lot of games this year if we continue playing like we did tonight, especially the way we played early in the game.”
The Northmen were playing without 6-foot-7 Ahmed Maboub, who suffered a broken hand earlier in the season. Bryce Butler led Oak Park with eight points.