Rare is the boys basketball coach smiling after a 2-point loss.
But that's the frame of mind Marmion coach Ryan Paradise was in Wednesday after Brooks edged the Cadets 59-57 in day three of Waubonsie Valley's Matt Laurich Christmas Classic.
Marmion's 68-55 loss to Plainfield Central the day before, in which both Paradise and Cadets players noted an early lack of sustained effort, framed the change of heart.
"Bouncing back from our loss yesterday we had a challenge ahead of us that we haven't had yet thus far, as far as the pressure that Brooks was going to put on us," Paradise said of the Eagles' 2-3 zone and then relentless man-to-man defense.
"I was very proud of our guys, we attacked it. We only had 8 turnovers, which is phenomenal against that pressure. We were able to run some stuff toward the end of the game, and our zone defense, I thought, was pretty good. At the end of the day I'm proud of the effort."
At the end of the game Marmion (5-6) owned a 54-52 lead over Brooks, which was playing without Wisconsin-bound guard George Marshall, who hurt his hand Tuesday. Michael Powell led Brooks with 22 points.
Brooks (6-1) rallied with 6 unanswered points, then Marmion guard Eddy Grahovec quickly converted Nick Scoliere's pass for a 3-pointer, his fifth of the game, to pull the Cadets within 58-57 with 11 seconds left.
Powell made 1 of 2 free throws, and Marmion had one last chance. Scoliere, who finished with 13 points, drove hard to the lane but had his shot blocked by Kevin Gray to end it.
All didn't end well for Marmion, but all was well with the coach.
"We have some internal leadership," Paradise said. "There comes a time where we didn't need to have a fire lit, and I was very happy with that because I was interested to see how we would bounce back.
"We had a walk-through this morning, everybody was upbeat, loose, ready for the game, knew what we had to do and really did a pretty good job of executing it, just came up one basket short."
Marmion, which was led by Grahovec's 20 points, will play Glenbard North at 4 p.m. Thursday in the fifth-place game at Waubonsie.