The MSL West conference got back to the grind with Barrington hosting their heated rivals, the Palatine Pirates. Not only was there conference bragging rights at stake but both teams were hoping to keep pace with reigning conference champions Fremd.
Barrington's loss to Fremd, kicking-off MSL play last Friday, was followed up by a 78-75 heartbreaking loss the following day to MSL conference crossover opponent Buffalo Grove. Now the Broncos were hungry to get back in the win column while notching their first conference win in the process.
After being hit with the injury bug early on in the season, Barrington was anxious to have junior forward John Schneider back. However, the team wouldn't be at full strength as sophomore guard Brad Zaumseil was out, but should be available for the Broncos' next game according to Barrington's coach Bryan Tucker.
"Hopefully we're getting it out of the way early," Tucker said of some of the injuries the team has faced to start the season.
But not being at full strength didn't hurt the Broncos (5-3,1-1) as they built up momentum after setting the defensive tone early. The offensive struggles of the Pirates (3-4,1-1) during the second and third quarter helped Barrington to a 49-37 win.
The Pirates jumped out to an early 7-4 advantage on junior forward Tom Hauert's field goal but that would be the last time that Palatine would have the lead. Barrington's physical defense cut down lane penetrations and immediately began winning the battle on the boards. Hauert ended with a team high seven points.
Palatine was unable to secure an offensive rebound during the first half while the Broncos managed 34 total rebounds on the night.
"We did a nice job rebounding the basketball," Barrington's coach Bryan Tucker said. "We've had some games where we worked hard playing defense and we were giving teams multiple shots. So I thought we took care of the complete defense by finishing off on the boards."
Barrington capitalized offensively as they quickly turned steals, rebounds and Pirate turnovers into fast break opportunities. The Broncos ended the first quarter on an 8-4 run sparked by senior forward Greg Gerrard's four points in the frame. Gerrard ended the night leading all scorers with 14 points and added seven rebounds.
With the Pirates starting the second quarter down 12-9 they were hoping to respond to the slow first quarter offensively but it was the Broncos who began the quarter on a 7-0 run.
The Bronco's pulled out to a 19-9 lead after the run that was started by the physical interior play of senior forward Owen Prunskis who scored the quarter's first four points. Prunskis ended the night with nine points but more importantly helped set the tone defensively and contributed with six rebounds.
"(Barrington) out muscled us, out played us and just played harder," Palatine's head coach Erik Millstone said of his teams five offensive rebounds during the game. "We have to screen out; we can't allow Barrington to attack the offensive glass which is something they do very well. That's where (Barrington) won the game."
Hoping to respond to the difficult first half, Palatine was looking to start the third quarter by mounting a dramatic comeback, but Barrington's stifling defense kept the pressure on the Pirate shooters that only managed seven points in the quarter.
"We did a nice job for four quarters tonight defensively," Tucker said. "Early on they got some looks, I just thought we were able to contest and not give them many comfortable looks over the whole game."
Barrington's junior forward Mark Bennett had four points during the 10-3 run in the quarter (10 points for the game) and helped add to the Pirate deficit that saw Palatine losing to end the third quarter 41-24.
"We feel like we have good balance," Tucker said about the fact eight different Broncos had scored. "If a team wants to take away one weapon we're looking elsewhere."
The Bronco lead could have been more but as a team Barrington missed seven of their 15 free throw attempts, five of them in the third quarter.
"I'm not concerned because sometimes you have those nights," Tucker said. "These kids are going to keep working on it."
The fourth quarter began in similar fashion to all the other quarters, with Palatine missing field goals and Barrington's opportunistic defense producing turnovers that helped to quickly end any hopes for the Pirates clawing back into the game.
Palatine did hit a scoring groove later in the period as they went on a 13-6 run thanks to senior guard Egan Malley's four points (ended with six points for the game) and the strong bench play of senior guard Chris Harris's 5 points in the quarter (and for the game) but it was just too little too late as Barrington beat the Pirates 49-37.
The win for the Broncos places them in an early season MSL W log jam for second place. They are now tied with Schaumburg, Fremd, and Palatine who are all 1-1 in conference play and are looking up at 2-0 Conant.
The Broncos play their next game on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at Jacobs. This non-conference game will start at 7 p.m.