Chargers take a tumble against Porters
Twelve wins in 16 tries should create a sense of satisfaction in everyone involved with the achievement.
So why is Stagg coach John Daniels not a happy man at the moment? The Chargers’ fourth loss offered the reason.
That defeat, which was handed down by Lockport last Thursday night, featured Stagg in a less-than-flattering light. While the Porters have been a stalwart within the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue for a number of seasons, the 2013-14 campaign hasn’t been their best.
The 51-41 win over the Chargers lifted Lockport just above the .500 plateau, but Daniels had no difficulty declaring the Porters the better team in this latest meeting between the schools.
“We have a saying — play hard, play smart, play together — but we didn’t represent the image we want as a program,” he said. “I was very disappointed in our effort.
“For years, I’ve talked about trying to build a good reputation and getting respect [for Stagg]. We’re there, but along with that comes the responsibility of playing up to everybody’s best effort.
“Right now, we’re a very marked team and [Lockport] came in jacked up — they played harder than us and took it to us. It’s almost like the roles were switched [from past years].”
As an illustration of that, Daniels pointed to the Porters’ 12 offensive rebounds in the contest. Eight of their 28 first-half points were generated on second chances, and Lockport’s physicality helped stake it to an 11-point lead by intermission.
The Chargers (12-4, 2-2) didn’t fade away after that, but Porters boss Lawrence Thompson was in no hurry to give Stagg any sort of emotional boost.
“Lockport tried taking the air out of the ball and working the clock,” Daniels said. “It was a good game plan he had.”
That didn’t prevent the Chargers from eventually narrowing the gap to three points, but they were unable to complete a comeback. Contributing to that failed attempt were 12 missed free throws, including the front end of three 1-and-1s.
While the hosts went 10-of-22 at the line for the game, the Porters buried 12-of-16 charity tosses.
“We had opportunities to score, but we were flat,” said Daniels, whose club was also guilty of 14 miscues and shot just 39 percent from the field. He lamented, too, the fact none of his players dished out more than two assists.
Jeff Goral totaled 15 points and four rebounds to lead Stagg, while Max Strus had 13 points and five boards. Daniels also praised Anthony Gardner, who did not score but demonstrated the greatest amount of hustle among Chargers players.
“It’s hard to explain, but it doesn’t feel like a 12-4 season,” Daniels said. “We’ve got some issues to deal with and work through. Our practice on Wednesday was awful — there was no intensity.
“We’ve had 177 wins over the past 9½ seasons, and [other athletes] had success being blue-collar players. They’re good kids [now], but I’ve got to find a way to get them hungry again. We’ve got to get it back — fast.”
Stagg, which had to reschedule last Tuesday’s slated contest against Oak Lawn for Feb. 1 due to bad weather, meets up with SWSC Blue and District 230 rival Sandburg Saturday at the United Center. The Eagles got tagged with a 77-73 overtime loss by Joliet West in their most recent encounter.
“Sandburg’s going to be hungry for us,” Daniels said. “We can’t have an off-night in our league.”
Lockport 16 12 10 13 - 51
Stagg 11 6 10 14 - 41
Stagg Scoring: Goral 15, Strus 13, White 9, Sims 4. Rebounds: Strus 5.