Timothy Christian's boys basketball team knows it let a huge opportunity slip away Tuesday night.
That being said, it's tough for the Trojans not to feel pretty good about their effort.
Perennial Metro Suburban Conference power Riverside-Brookfield held off a fierce Timothy Christian rally to pull out a 65-62 road win in Elmhurst.
Timothy Christian (5-3, 2-1) whittled down a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to 3 points after the Bulldogs' Will Kincanon split a pair of free throws with 44 seconds left. A missed Trojans 3-pointer put Kincanon back at the line, but he missed both attempts.
With 17 seconds to work with, Timothy Christian looked for an open look to tie the game and send it to overtime. Khali Valrie's 3-point attempt came up short, however, and Riverside-Brookfield's Kevin Fitzgerald snared the rebound to seal the win.
Missing two chances to tie or take the lead hurt, but Trojans coach Jack LeGrand loved the way his team fought to put itself in that position.
"The one thing we really talked about was that we weren't going to quit," LeGrand said. "The guys did that. They kept playing hard. But we couldn't execute down the stretch. That was kind of hard. We have to get better than that."
Timothy Christian used an 18-3 first-quarter run to build an 18-11 lead, and the Trojans took their last lead of 40-39 early in the third quarter on one of Justin Rhiner's four 3-pointers. Eight 3-pointers helped keep the Trojans close but Riverside-Brookfield (5-2, 2-0) still managed to extend its lead to 57-47 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
From that point on the Bulldogs struggled to put the game away.
"We didn't play well at all as a team," Kincanon said. "Maybe it was the week layoff, but I don't want to make any excuses. We should have definitely pulled away a couple of times. We had a couple of opportunities."
Three-pointers by Connor VanderBrug and Valrie narrowed the gap, as did a bucket by Joe Bishop and a pair of Ben Lodewyk free throws. The Bulldogs' defense tightened up, however, and didn't allow a point in the final 52 seconds.
Kincanon scored 16 points while Jack VandeMerkt added 15 and Fitzgerald 14 points for the Bulldogs. Sam Johnson had 11 points and 6 boards in the first half but missed the second half after taking an elbow to his left cheek.
VanderBrug also tallied 16 points with Rhiner pitching in 14 points. Valrie and Wes Ditchfield scored 10 points apiece for Timothy Christian.
"They hit some big shots and we had stretches where we struggled," said Bulldogs coach Tom McCloskey. "Fortunately, we hung on and we won."
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