Highland Park scored four first-quarter points and trailed St. Patrick 23-14 at halftime on Friday.
Then the sleeping Giants woke up.
Highland Park used a 13-0 scoring run in the third quarter to grab a 32-29 lead heading into the fourth, and the Giants never looked back in a 49-35 win in second-round play of York’s Jack Tosh Classic.
“At halftime we just said to take it possession by possession,” Highland Park coach Paul Harris said. “There are no nine-point possessions. We felt like we missed some free throws and we missed some makeable shots in the first half, so let’s not push the panic button.
“And defensively we played with a lot more urgency in the second half.”
Defensive urgency helped the Giants (8-2) hold St. Patrick to 12 points and only two field goals after halftime.
Meanwhile, their offense found hot shooting hands up and down the lineup.
After being hounded defensively and going scoreless in the first half, Highland’s Luke Norcia netted eight of his 10 points in the third quarter.
Teammates Hallvard Lundevall and Tommy Sutker also scored 10 points apiece and David Sachs added nine for the Giants.
St. Patrick knew that slowing Sachs and Norcia would be key, and the strategy worked to halftime.
“David and I are getting used to that,” Norcia said. “We expect guys to be in our face and make things uncomfortable for us, and I thought we handled it pretty well tonight because we have kids like Tommy (Sutker) and Hallvard (Lundevall) and Jacob (Iden) that can take guys off the dribble and hit shots.”
St. Patrick tried to use the three-point shot to get back in the game down the stretch, but the Giants held the Shamrocks to six points in both the third and fourth quarters.
“We just played like we didn’t want to lose,” Norcia said. “That’s how St. Patrick played in the first half. We wanted to get to the quarterfinals and we just played hard.”
The Giants won 53-35 over Minooka in opening-round play and will take on Palatine (6-5) in a quarterfinal game on Saturday at York.