2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/17/2014 11:48 PM

Timothy Christian gets back into swing of things

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By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent

Before Friday the 30 most familiar to Timothy Christian senior Connor VanderBrug was the calendar date of his team's last basketball game.

After scoring as many as 29 points four times over the past two seasons, VanderBrug made his first game of 2014 count with a personal-high 33 in the Trojans' 57-42 victory at Fenton in Metro Suburban Conference action.

Timothy (9-5, 4-1) hadn't played since losing to Waubonsie Valley 36-25 at York's Jack Tosh Classic on Dec. 30.

"I wanted to get my teammates in there (scoring) a little bit, but it felt great. It was a fun game," VanderBrug said.

"It's been a long stretch with no games. We've been practicing hard, so we were definitely ready to play. I just had a rough stretch in the York Tournament, so it's good to get back at it tonight."

VanderBrug was at 29 points Friday after a strong third quarter that put Timothy ahead 44-28 after only leading 26-20 at the half against the inspired Bison (0-15, 0-3).

"Connor played very well in the post. He was an animal tonight," Timothy coach Jack LeGrand said.

The Trojans scored the first four points of the fourth quarter with VanderBrug getting a reverse layup for a 44-28 lead. He later added a putback with 3:52 left.

"We were not real crisp, but that's to be expected," LeGrand said. "In the third quarter we played a little more relaxed. I think we were playing kind of tight and you could tell we weren't sharp. Plus Fenton did a really good job."

Besides going 14 of 25 from the field with three of the Trojans' five 3-pointers, VanderBrug had 6 rebounds and blocked 5 shots. Justin Rhiner added 8 points, and Wes Ditchfield had 6 rebounds.

Still, the Trojans needed some encouragement to get VanderBrug the ball, even when facing a smaller defender. With Timothy only leading 22-19 and 2:35 left until halftime, LeGrand called a timeout.

"How come coaches have to do that? (I told them), 'It's working. Why are we switching things around here?'" LeGrand said with a smile. "We did re-emphasize what we were trying to do. So much of our stuff runs off of Connor, whether he's scoring or not. It gets people into a rhythm, and we didn't have that for quite some time tonight."

On the next two possessions VanderBrug scored on a hook in the lane and drove the lane for a bank shot to help the Trojans establish some momentum for the second half.

"VanderBrug is such a good player," Fenton coach Josh Payton said. "Arguably that would be one of the better halves that we've been able to put together. They really listened about game plan and focus and what we needed to do."

For the third quarter Timothy switched from a man-to-man defense to 3-2 zone, pinching and double-teaming Fenton's guards.

The Bison had just 6 points and 2 field goals from Greg Wagner in the period, while VanderBrug scored 11 of Timothy's 18 points.

Wagner had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds after scoring 26 points at Addison Trail on Jan. 10. David Alden and Brad Leffew had 9 points each.

After just 6 turnovers in the first half, Fenton had 5 in a row during the latter half of the third quarter.

"Between the (zone) changes and us needing to adjust pretty quickly, we didn't get the amount of looks we normally get," Payton said. "It just seems like we're always kind of a half-step behind the curve when it comes to what is the other team doing and what do we need to do to negate that?"

On three straight turnovers Timothy junior guard Joe Bishop passed to VanderBrug for a 3, stole an inbounds pass under Fenton's basket for an easy lay-in and stole the ball at midcourt and passed to Rhiner for what became a three-point play.

"We've been practicing for 18 days straight. It was just rough getting back into it," Bishop said. "I think we just really got into it in the third. (Our defense) gave us a lot of energy. That's what we needed because we had that long break."

The Trojans play again Saturday at Illiana Christian. It was supposed to be their first game for 2014 on Jan. 7 but had to be rescheduled.

"It seems like forever since we played a ballgame," LeGrand said. "It's just the way it went. It was just a weird schedule with the weather, plus exam week this week."

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