Marmion delivered what looked to be a pair of knockout punches to Moline Wednesday night in the championship game of the 84th annual Chuck Dayton basketball tournament in DeKalb only to watch the Maroons hit back harder each time.
Moline overcame a pair of double-digit deficits, outscoring Marmion 16-6 in the fourth quarter for a 50-48 victory in an entertaining, emotionally charged title game that felt more like a March postseason game.
Marmion (8-6) might not have looked like a team that could extend its season that far when it got off to an 0-3 start this year, but after going 4-1 and nearly winning the tourney title the Cadets have momentum on their side heading into 2012.
"I'm proud we got this far," said Cadets defensive stopper A.J. Friedman. "Second quarter we let it get away the last four minutes and in the end we let a few easy putbacks. We shut down 24 (Anthony Lindauer) and 20 (Tim Wages), we did what we wanted to do, we just have to step it up on the rebounds."
"Give Marmion credit, they are a really good team," Moline coach Ryan Webber said. "They jumped on us real quick, they moved the ball well, it seemed everything they threw at the basket went in. I'm just happy for these kids because they showed what they are made of."
Moline, now 14-1 with only a 1-point loss to Rock Island Alleman, looked like defeat No. 2 was on the way much of the game.
Jeff Garofalo continued his hot shooting with three early corner 3s against Moline's zone, the final one leading to a Maroons timeout with the Cadets up 11-2.
Marmion eventually built a 25-10 lead before a disastrous final four minutes of the first half.
The problems started when Friedman went to the bench with his third foul. He had been shadowing Lindauer, fresh off a 38-point night Tuesday.
Moline closed the second quarter on a 19-2 surge, capitalizing on 9 second-quarter turnovers to take a 29-27 halftime lead.
Not deterred, Marmion came out in the second half and built another commanding lead, going up 42-32 on a 3 from Alex Theisen. The Cadets held Moline to 2 field goals in the third quarter.
But again Marmion couldn't hold its lead. Lindauer's fourth 3-pointer tied the game at 42 early in the fourth quarter, and he followed with a steal and layup to give Moline a 44-42 edge.
The Cadets appeared to catch a huge break with 5:42 left when Lindauer fouled Garofalo on another corner 3 attempt, his fifth foul. Instead, Moline found a way to win with its star on the bench.
"It's a fine line," Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. "At that point we had been so effective of guarding him that we were in that mode it's not like the greatest thing in the world he fouled out. We kept battling and kept playing, defensively we were OK, we just did not take care of the ball down the stretch."
Garofalo sank 2 of 3 free throws to tie the game, then Webber took the air out of the ball with his star out. The strategy worked as Moline worked over two minutes off the clock until Connnor Welvaert found an opening and scored on a lay-in for a 46-44 lead with 2:12 left.
Marmion had 3 possessions to tie or take the lead but turned the ball over twice and missed a 3. Drew Owens converted all 4 of his free throws in the final 26.9 seconds which the Maroons needed when Marmion's A.J. Bohr banked in a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to go for the final points -- which also turned out to be the Cadets' only field goal in 7 fourth-quarter attempts.
"When we were coming up we were making reads and they weren't decisive basketball plays," Paradise said. "We were kind of hesitant whether to drive it or pass it."
Garofalo led Marmion with 17 points, Theisen scored 11, Bohr 9 and Ryan Glasgow 7. Leading scorer Pete Stefanski, who joined Theisen on the all-tournament team, had a walking boot on his right foot following an ankle injury Tuesday. Paradise isn't sure how long until Stefanski returns.
Lindauer led all scorers with 18 points but needed 21 shots. Webber was proud of how his team responded late.
"I think it's just a testament to our kids and what a team we are," Webber said. "We're way more than just one guy. He's a heck of a player but our kids rallied around him and persevered. That's a tough situation to be in. Our team got real gutsy in the fourth quarter."