DOWNERS GROVE – After struggling shooting the ball from the perimeter in recent games, Drew Cwik immediately went to work on establishing another streak Saturday.
The South Elgin sophomore guard canned three 3-pointers in the first quarter to finish with a game-high 16 points in a 55-41 rout of Romeoville in the Winter Classic at Downers Grove North.
Cwik finished with four 3s to form an unstoppable inside-outside combination with Kendis Wiley. Wiley, a sophomore center, scored eight of his 13 points in the opening quarter.
“Drew did a good job shooting the ball, but also learning what shots to take, and those first-quarter shots were huge because they were off passes,” South Elgin coach Brett Johnson said.
“He has confidence in himself and been waiting for a game like this, he needed this a confidence builder.”
Cwik said he gained about “15 pounds” since the end of last season, filling out his frame to add more distance to his jumper. His strength was evident throughout Saturday’s game, as he was able to shed defenders while penetrating and bringing the ball up the court.
“I just haven’t been getting into a rhythm, but this was a good team win, helping to contribute to a big win,” Cwik said. “Today was a huge confidence builder with my shot.”
Cwik credited his offseason workouts with Wiley for helping to push him to be prepared to play a bigger role with more responsibility on the varsity this season.
“All that work with Kendis is paying off now,” he said. “I also was working on my game this summer. I’m quicker and stronger, especially in my legs, which helps get that acceleration that I need.”
The Storm (7-11) pulled away in the second half behind a strong defensive effort, limiting the Spartans (8-7) to one shot on many possessions, forcing turnovers and crashing the boards. The Spartans went nearly seven minutes in the second half without registering a point.
“We’ve had games where we’ve lost leads late in games and not been able to finish, but today we did a great job finishing, especially at the end of the third quarter,” Johnson said. “We defended well, did a good job stopping a quick, athletic and fast Romeoville team, even if they didn’t have all their guys.”
The Spartans played the last quarter and half without starting point guard Dakoda Joachim, who suffered an apparent hip injury on a drive to the basket. Diego Durr led the Spartans with eight points.
“We just had a crazy second half, had some injuries and just fell apart when our point guard went down,” Romeoville coach Marc Howard said. “I don’t know what happened, just fell apart. But that’s a good South Elgin team. They were patient, looked for good shots and played well.”