The Green Wave joined the Gold rush Friday.
The Gold Division of the Suburban Christian Conference boys basketball race is up for grabs with 3 games left in the wake of host St. Edward's 68-64 comeback victory over first-place Montini.
Montini led 31-23 at halftime, but St. Edward (17-4, 5-2) kept the Broncos guessing by switching defenses with regularity throughout the second half. The Wave forced 8 of Montini's 16 turnovers in the third quarter to draw even, 41-41, heading to the final period.
"We'd go from a man-to-man to a 1-2-2 to a 2-3 zone, throw a little three-quarter court pressure at them, drop back into a man-to-man, go back to a zone," St. Edward coach P.J. White explained. "We just changed it up to see if we could goof them up a little bit."
"We wanted to keep the defensive intensity up because that creates our offense," St. Edward senior Adrian Ponce said.
Ponce, senior point guard Antonio Domel and junior guard Devontae Elam combined to score all 27 of St. Edward's fourth-quarter points to help the Wave avenge 2 previous losses to the Broncos, once in tournament play.
"It's really big because this was the only team we've lost to that we haven't also beaten," said Domel, who scored 12 of his team-high 20 points in the final eight minutes. "That was pretty awesome."
The loss dropped Montini (14-6, 6-1) into a first-place tie with Immaculate Conception (16-4, 6-1), which defeated Guerin 71-47. The Broncos and Knights will square off next Friday night in Elmhurst.
The win pulled St. Edward within a game of the co-leaders. All three contenders have 3 SCC Gold games remaining. St. Edward visits IC in the regular-season finale on Feb. 15.
Montini didn't shoot poorly in the second half (13 of 28), but St. Edward caught fire. The Wave made 15-of-25 second-half field goals, 4 of 7 from 3-point range. St. Edward cashed in on multiple runouts resulting from Montini's 12 post-intermission turnovers .
"They just increased their pressure on us and they did a phenomenal job," Montini coach Brian Opoka said. "I thought their kids played harder than ours. They earned the victory and all the credit goes to them. They did everything, hitting big shots, rebounding hard, attacking the basket strong, hitting free throws, having well-executed possessions. They were patient with their offense until they got a very good look. They did everything they needed to do to beat us."
Consecutive 3-pointers by Elam and Domel midway through the fourth quarter built the St. Edward lead to 54-44. A pair of 3-pointers by Montini's Logan Goss (11 points) and a driving layup by 6-foot-4 junior Simmie Cobbs fueled an 8-2 run that allowed the Broncos to draw within 68-64 with 18 seconds left, but that was as close as they came.
Montini junior Matt Brachmann led all scorers with 22 points while Cobbs finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Ponce finished with 17 points and 4 rebounds and Elam contributed 14 points and 4 assists for St. Edward.
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