Timothy Christian fell into an old rut Tuesday. Familiar, but not fatal.
Spotting Lisle a 14-4 lead and down 6 points at halftime, the Trojans' explosive third quarter translated to a 51-45 win at the Class 2A Westmont boys basketball regional.
"The good news is we've had very strong third quarters," said Timothy Christian coach Jack LeGrand. "The bad news is we've been starting out poorly and trying to get through that. We can't keep doing that and succeed."
No. 3 seed Timothy (15-13) gets another crack Wednesday in a 6 p.m. Westmont semifinal against No. 2 Walther Lutheran (15-12), which ousted No. 7 Christ the King 77-52. A second semifinal between No. 1 Immaculate Conception and No. 4 Westmont follows at 8:10.
No. 6 Lisle (12-18) began as it had all season, riding senior forward Kazim Khan for 10 of his team-high 20 points in the first quarter and 14 points by halftime.
Until Timothy's Tyler VanderBrug lent foreshadowing with a pair of 3-pointers that cut Lisle's halftime lead to 22-16, Lisle enjoyed sequences like Nick Saul's fifth-chance putback.
"We knew we just had to stop giving up a lot of offensive rebounds and stop Khan," said Timothy forward Danny Leach, who scored 9 of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter. "He had, like, two-thirds of their points or something in the first half, so we knew those were the two big things we had to do. Just amp up the energy, start forcing turnovers."
Lisle coach Mark LaScala noted later it was indeed a turnover-fest. The Lions committed 7 and missed 4 shots in the first five minutes of the third quarter while Timothy went on scoring runs of 16-0 and 20-2.
Matt Robinson made 2 steals and Chris Ridolphi another, plus a three-point play. Connor VanderBrug, Tyler's kid brother, scored 6 third-quarter points to put the Trojans up 36-30 entering the fourth.
"Unfortunately it was kind of a microcosm of our season," LaScala said. "When we were good we were very good. Then when we weren't it just lasted a little too long."
Dawon Burrell and Cam Bell pulled Lisle within 49-45 with 42 seconds left, but Tyler VanderBrug hit 2 free throws and Lisle missed its last two shots to end its season.
"The bonds I've created with these kids are undescribable," a saddened Khan said. "Our core group, we've been friends since junior high, or since kindergarten we've all been cool. It was an emotional game."