While Aurora Christian didn't back down from the toughness Marmion brought to their Suburban Christian Blue contest Friday night, Eagles coach Pat McNamara knew the Cadets owed much of their 60-53 victory to being just a bit tougher.
"Marmion earned that victory. Our guys were a little physical but they were a lot physical," McNamara said. "They really got after that. I thought that was one of the big keys of the game."
Marmion (6-13, 2-3) was especially effective on the boards in the first half with a 25-14 advantage (41-32 for the game). That -- along with red-hot 3-point shooting by reserve Corey Friel -- staked Marmion to a 37-26 halftime lead.
Aurora Christian (9-8, 0-5) pushed the Cadets in the second half but never caught them, getting as close as 46-45, 50-49 and 52-51 in the fourth quarter.
It became a 52-51 with 3:58 left in the game on an electrifying steal and slam from Cory Windle, the second jam by the senior forward.
But the Eagles got only a Ryan Suttle bucket in those final four minutes while an up-and-under move from Colin Kavanaugh followed by Jordan Glasgow's steal and layup put the Cadets up 56-51, and they made 4 of 5 free throws in the final 40 seconds to extend the final margin.
Ten players scored for the balanced Cadets led by Glasgow's 12 points.
"We never lost our composure," Glasgow said. "We made the right decisions even when they were pressing us and when it looked like they might go ahead.
"Usually we break down and everyone tries to do everything themselves. We worked more as a team and the scoring was more spread out."
In front a good turnout and a lively crowd for both schools, not many shots dropped early as the teams combined to miss their first 11 3s, and even a dunk attempt by Marmion's Tyler Maryanski and breakaway layups by Windle and Ryan McQuade didn't go down.
However once Johnny Peters got a 3-pointer to fall for the Cadets late in the first quarter, Marmion almost couldn't miss. The Cadets drained 6 of their final 7 3-point attempts in the first half, including 3 for 3 by Friel, to put 20 points on the board in the second quarter and take an 11-point halftime lead.
Friel and Kavanaugh both scored 9 points as Marmion's bench outscored Aurora Christian's 23-14.
"Even when we go starter against non-starters sometimes (at practice) the people who don't start do just as well as us," Glasgow said. "It makes it more difficult in practice and it helps us in games."
Alex Theisen's 3 to start the third quarter gave the Cadets their biggest lead of the game at 40-26. Windle (game-high 16 points, 7 rebounds), Zach Singer (10 points), McQuade (9 points) and Ryan Suttle (8 points) led the Eagles' comeback that saw them get within 46-43 after three quarters.
Theisen joined Glasgow in double figures for the Cadets with 11 points. Junior Danny Bicknell, who broke his nose battling in a game earlier this year, epitomized the Cadets' work on the boards with a game-high 9.
"Dan was a monster on the glass," Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. "He's physical in practice, dominates the rebounds in practice and is really a good 3-point shooter and is finally starting to get his touch. His confidence is up. That's the way he is and he gave us a big lift tonight."
McNamara, who coached at Marmion from 2002 to 2007, said he enjoyed his first game against his former school.
"Lot of friends up in the crowd. It was good. Good crowd out here, good ballgame. Solid people out there," said McNamara whose team is still looking for its first SCC win facing Wheaton Academy Saturday.
"It's a tough conference, everybody is good. Haven't beat Wheaton Academy in 10 years I think so we've got to go bring it tomorrow."
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