Chicago Christian’s Malik Parker makes a baseline move against Elmwood Park on Friday. (Gary Middendorf / Daily Southtown)
Senior guard Frank Johnson said he and his Chicago Christian teammates have "so much fun" playing together.
When the Knights have their full arsenal, opponents aren’t having much fun playing against them.
Chicago Christian topped 95 points for the third straight game Friday, rolling to a 97-42 Metro Suburban Red win over Elmwood Park in Palos Heights.
"We hang out a lot off the court, and we get along really well, and it carries over on the court," Johnson said. "We’ve been really enjoying playing together, and we’ve been able to score a lot of points."
Malik Parker scored 19 points to lead the Knights (5-4, 4-0), who won their fourth straight. Johnson added 17 points, all in the first half.
Adrian Lach paced Elmwood Park (2-7, 2-2) with 13 points.
Johnson, Parker and senior classmate Josh Decker were suspended for the first five games of the season, and Chicago Christian started 1-4. The Knights haven’t lost since the trio returned.
"It was really tough sitting out and seeing us get some losses," Johnson said. "Us being out, though, helped make us better. A lot of the other players got to play a lot and got better. We became more of a family."
Johnson, who hit five 3-pointers, scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Knights raced to a 26-7 lead.
"It’s a confidence thing," Johnson said. "I felt it."
The Knights were even better offensively in the second quarter, scoring 31 points. They finished the night shooting 36-for-62.
"We shot it really well, but a lot of that was because we got good shots," Chicago Christian coach Kevin Pittman said. "We moved the ball really well. Everything we’ve been stressing in practice, they came out and did it. I’m really proud of these kids."
With a group of reserves having gained experience early in the season, the Knights’ second unit wasn’t far behind the starters. Chicago Christian scored 37 bench points, with Aidan Crotty (9 points) and Jeff Mayberry (8 points, 6 rebounds) leading the way.
The Knights had 10 players score at least four points each.
"Our reserves really challenge our starters in practice," Pittman said. "They got at it extremely hard, and it makes everybody better. We had 10 guys come in and contribute."
Decker finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
"When we have everything clicking and everyone’s playing well, everyone gets to do what they want out there," Parker said. "We have a lot of fun when that happens."
Yorkville 65, Lincoln-Way West 51: Taylor Gugliuzza had 11 points for West (13-2) in the Gold Bracket semifinals at the Ottawa Holiday Tournament. The Warriors also lost 60-39 to Kaneland in the third-place game.
Al Dvorak Memorial Invitational: Jacob Lindsey (113) and John Nowak (195) won championships for runner-up Providence (194.5) at Harlem. Yahya Thomas (145) captured his weight class for third-place Mount Carmel (187). St. Rita’s Austin O’Connor (152) and Marist’s Diata Drayton (220) also placed first.
Lockport 61, Stagg 9: Matt Kronsbein (126), Abdullah Assaf (132), Brandon Ramos (145) and Nick Dado (170) won by fall for Lockport (21-0, 5-0 SWSC Blue).
Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown. Freelancer Josh Krockey contributed.