Fresh from a title-winning performance at the Westminster Christian Thanksgiving Tournament, St. Edward's boys basketball team appeared to be in danger of suffering its first loss during the second half against Joliet Catholic Tuesday night.
Trailing 27-22 late in the third quarter, junior guard John Butzow drained a 3-pointer to ignite an 11-0 run that left the Green Wave (5-0) ahead 33-27 with 4:35 remaining.
St. Edward later capitalized with a 4-point possession after a technical foul was called on Joliet Catholic guard Ryan Peter (14 points) in the final 2 minutes and held on for a 43-37 victory over the Hilltoppers (0-5) in the opening round of the second annual Burney Wilkie Classic at Aurora Christian.
"Both teams missed a lot of shots," said St. Edward coach P.J. White. "You can tell it's early in the season. They played that 1-2-2 zone against us and we made just enough shots to win."
Perhaps no shot was more important than the one Butzow hit from the corner with his team down 5 in the third quarter.
"They're twin brothers and those guys can shoot the 3," White said of John and Michael Butzow. "That's what they come in for."
The technical foul call was made after Green Wave forward Adrian Ponce (8 points) and Peter fought for a loose ball with 2:37 remaining.
"Their legs kind of got tangled up and the kid (Peter) kicked him," said White. "It was a little bit of frustration coming out. It was the correct call but that's a tough one to swallow for either team."
"I just fell to the ground and he decided to kick me," said Ponce. "It's part of the game, I guess."
After Antonio Domel (7 points, 4 assists) knocked down the 2 free throws, he lofted a perfect alley-oop pass to Ponce for a layup that gave the Green Wave a 37-32 lead with 2:20 left.
"That made me happy because things weren't going my way the first three quarters," said Ponce, who added 5 rebounds and a pair of steals.
Hilltoppers coach Joe Gura had a little different version of one of the game's key plays.
"I think both kids were equally aggressive," said Gura. "I can't believe they called a technical foul but they did and that's life."
Junior guard Davontae Elam came off the bench to score a team-high 10 points with 7 rebounds for the Green Wave, while Danny Favela and John Butzow added 6 points apiece.
St. Edward also helped its own cause by hitting 10 of 11 free throws, including 4 in the final 27 seconds.
"We're trying to get that up to 80 percent as an overall team," White said of his team's foul shooting. "That's hard to do but we're trying."
St. Edward's defense has held its first 5 opponents to an average of 38 points per game.
"We just keep moving and try to match up with shooters," said White, whose team returns to Aurora Christian tonight to face Montini.
"I thought our kids played well with some adversity," added White. "We weren't playing very well but they stuck with it."