In a basketball game it's uncommon for both teams to achieve their coaches' defensive goals.
In Friday's boys game between two Suburban Christian Gold favorites, host IC Catholic beat Montini 49-45 in Elmhurst. Knights sophomore Rhashaun Epting scored 25 points with 11 rebounds and made 6 of 8 free throws in the last minute to hold Montini at bay.
IC (8-1, 4-0) averaged 71 points coming in but made 12 of 30 free throws and 18 of 44 field-goal tries. Montini (3-4, 1-1) went 17 of 47 from the floor and got outrebounded 38-29 including 12-6 on the offensive glass.
"They did a great job playing defense and forcing turnovers and getting into position. We've just got to slow down and run offense," said Epting, who twice in the fourth quarter rebounded a teammate's missed free throw to score or get to the foul line.
"Our style is to keep that up-tempo going and they did an outstanding job of really slowing us down, which wasn't the game we necessarily wanted to play," said IC coach T.J. Tyrrell, who thought the Knights would win if Montini scored less than 50 points. Alternately, Montini coach Brian Opoka thought keeping IC in the 40s would work for the Broncos.
"The upper 40s wasn't enough for us," said Opoka said, hampered by forward Matt Brachmann's foul trouble. Brachmann fouled out with 6 points, IC's Clark Brinkman left early with 14.
In half-court sets IC often met a Montini defender blocking the way. Jack Brady took five charges and Mike Mooney and Sam Thomas took one apiece.
"I feel like that's just part of our help defense," said Brady, who added 8 points. "Once you slide over and you've got the help defense there'll be a charge waiting. That just happened to me tonight."
Through three quarters the widest margin was 5 points, with five lead changes. IC gained momentum when freshman Jordan Rowell put back a teammate's missed free throw to tie 35-35 after three quarters.
A minute and a half later Epting did the same, then rebounded his own missed free throw and went 1 of 2 from the line. His inside hoop completed an 8-0 run spanning the quarters, a 40-35 Knights lead with 4:39 left.
A Mooney free throw got Montini within 42-40 with 1:48 to play. The Broncos, led by Mooney's 11, didn't score again until Nile Sykes' bucket with 20.3 seconds left. Epting and Sean Sutton combined for 8 free throws to close it out.
"We really had to settle down, down the stretch," Tyrrell said.
"The caliber of defense we played today was impressive, and I'm really proud and excited for us going forward," Opoka said. "On the flip side we've got to get better scoring the basketball."