By Michael O'Brien
Kory Brown and Arie Williams dont have jaw-dropping talent. Neither player is heading to Duke or North Carolina or even the Big Ten -- but they have the intelligence and drive that makes Elgin a serious contender to advance to Peoria in March.The Maroons suffered an early-season loss to Geneva, but Friday against visiting St. Charles East, they proved they had learned a valuable lesson from the loss.Coach Mike Sitter told us St. Charles East tries to score 70 every game, Brown said. Every person on that team has a jump shot we respect. We learned in the Geneva game that we had to focus on our defense.Brown, Williams and the rest of Elgin (7-1, 2-1) kept those jump shots from falling, holding the Saints scoreless for the first six minutes of the game on the way to a 55-39 victory in Upstate Eight River action.We were pretty excited coming in with all the hype, Williams said. It was our first Friday night game of the year and I think that energy helped us get out to the hot start.Brown, a 6-4 senior, led the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Cortez Scott added 13 points and Williams finished with 12 points and four steals.Stealing the ball is just my skill, Williams, a 5-8 junior, said. I sneak up on them. Youve got to be quiet and approach them. Im like a little lion.St. Charles East threatened to mount a late comeback after Kendall Stephens three-pointer with 4:52 to play cut the Elgin lead to 44-36. But Brown drove the lane and elevated for a jumper on the next possession, igniting an 8-0 run that put the game away.Stephens, a Purdue recruit, is one of the top juniors in the country. He led the Saints (6-3, 3-1) with 17 points and four rebounds. He shot 6 of 18 from the floor and 2-for-10 from three-point range.We knew we had to get up and make sure we had a hand in their face at all times, Brown said. We practiced getting around the screens and piggybacking all week.