Batavia senior center Elliot Vaughn knew that a loss to Highland Park Tuesday at the Elgin tournament would mean an 8:45 a.m. tip-off Wednesday.
He and his teammates were determined to avoid that, and keep the Bulldogs' hopes of winning the consolation championship alive.
Batavia accomplished both of those goals with a 43-34 win to climb over .500 on the season yet again at 6-5.
"That was kind of a goal for us, to not play an 8:45 game," Vaughn said. "We didn't come out and play our game (Monday in a 72-52 loss to Buffalo Grove), and that left a bad taste in our mouths. We wanted to come out today with a purpose and play well and do what we needed to do."
A crippling rebounding advantage against an undermanned Highland Park team did the trick. The Bulldogs finished with a 41-to-16 advantage on the boards, led by nine apiece from Vaughn and Zach Strittmatter.
"I thought in the first half, that caught us off guard a little bit," Highland Park Coach Paul Harris said. "We knew they were big, but when you play against them, you see how physical they are. They definitely exposed some things with us on the glass."
Despite that, the Giants (4-7) opened the second half with a 6-0 run to cut the Batavia lead to 26-25. But the Bulldogs responded with their own 6-0 run, triggered by a three-point play off an offensive rebound by Vaughn, and Batavia was never seriously threatened again.
"I thought we took care of the ball better," Batavia Coach Jim Roberts said of responding to the early Highland Park surge in the third. "I thought we moved without the ball better on offense. Those were big keys. And I thought we did a pretty good job defensively."
Batavia got off to a quick 21-12 start and held a 26-19 lead at the half. Four offensive rebound put-backs keyed the half, including Strittmatter's tip-in at the halftime buzzer.
"He's played very aggressively," Roberts said. "He's been working at it. That basket at the end of the first half was big. That gave us some momentum."
The Bulldogs get back into action today at 1:30 p.m. against Rockford Guilford. Rockford is a quick team on the perimeter, which will give the Bulldogs a different challenge on Day 3 of the four-day tournament.
"We played King and they were pretty good," Vaughn said of facing a quick team. "We did all right. It's just about coming out with a purpose and playing with pride that will set the tone and control the tempo of the game."