Ryan Suttle knew all the angles.
Off an inbounds play with 6.4 seconds left and the score tied, the senior guard was in the right place at the right time to rebound Cory Windle's missed 3-point shot and score in one motion. The basketball fell through as the horn sounded for a 59-57 Eagles victory over top-seeded IC Catholic Prep on Friday in the Class 2A Westmont regional final.
"I just saw Cory going up for the shot and I knew that if he missed it's going to be backside and it was going to be a long rebound. I just put myself in the right position. I was just there at the right time, I guess," said Suttle, who scored a game-high 21 points with 7 rebounds for the third-seeded Eagles.
Aurora Christian (19-11) moves to the Byron sectional semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against 29-0 Winnebago, a 62-52 winner over Oregon. The Associated Press' No. 2 team in 2A, Winnebago beat the Eagles 70-57 on Jan. 29 in Aurora.
"When the playoffs start the regular season record doesn't matter at all and we just started clicking at the right time," said Suttle, who was presented the net that had been cut down from the rim in celebration.
"We want to get another crack," said Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara, who directed his squad to its second regional title in three years.
That was in doubt. ICCP (22-6) overcame a 2-3 zone defense targeting shooters Demetrius Carr and Clark Brinkman to rally from a 46-35 deficit with 6:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Rhashaun Epting, who scored 15 points, made three 3-point baskets within two minutes. Guard Anthony Taylor converted a three-point play after making a wild toss while being fouled.
When Carr turned a steal into another 3-point play with 3:45 left the Knights led 52-50, their first lead since 18-16 in the second quarter.
"He was struggling from the outside and he's been a 40-percent 3-point shooter all year, but he's a big-time gamer and he's been all year and he's done it for us in the clutch, and he did it again," Knights coach T.J. Tyrrell.
Carr scored 9 of his team-high 18 points and grabbed 7 of his 10 rebounds in the fourth quarter. His physical defense held Aurora Christian's Johnathan Harrell to 9 points.
With Harrell mainly held in check save a 7-point second quarter, others had to step up.
"We had a few guys," McNamara said. "Suttle came up big, (Ryan McQuade) hit big shots out there, we got some good defensive efforts...And big (6-8) Paxton Singer, he had some rebounds (6) for us. He adds a different dimension for us."
ICCP led 54-52 when McQuade swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to reclaim the lead with 46 seconds left.
"That one hurt," Tyrrell said.
"I love the big moments, I just love it. And when your coach believes in you it's so much easier. And Coach McNamara has certainly been a blessing because he believes in every one of our guys," said the 6-foot-4 McQuade, who scored 11 points and drew 2 charges to bring his astounding season total to 45 despite missing three weeks with a knee injury.
Suttle sank 2 free throws that were answered by Carr's long, measured 3 from the left elbow to tie the score 57-57 with 10 seconds left.
Aurora Christian has eliminated ICCP from the playoffs in a second straight sports season, football and now basketball. Carr, a quarterback who'll play football at Minnesota State-Moorhead, was "devastated" seeing Suttle's game-winner. In a sad locker room, he found perspective.
"It hurts, being that was your last high school game forever," said the 6-foot-2 senior. "But I looked at the bigger picture and I have another career in college. I have to move on, and there's going to be games like this in college, too, that I will have to get through."