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There could be only one winner, but Tuesday's boys basketball crossover between the leaders of the Suburban Christian Conference Blue and Gold divisions made both Wheaton Academy and IC Catholic Prep better.
Wheaton Academy's height prevailed, 64-53, in West Chicago. The hosts got 16 points and 9 rebounds from 6-foot-8 Gordon Behr, 12 points and 4 blocks from 6-10 Chandler Fuzak and, off the bench, a season-high 13 points and 7 rebounds from 6-5 Jake Lindstedt.
"We definitely knew we had a big size advantage inside like we normally do, so one of our big (points of) emphasis going into the game was just to get the ball into the post and just to play inside-out. And with all of our post players we feel like we can do that confidently on a game-to-game basis," Lindstedt said.
On the other hand, IC guards such as Ross Fleming, Anthony Taylor and Sean Sutton forced the Warriors into 19 turnovers, which made Josh Ruggles' four perfect free throws in the last 34 seconds that much more important for Wheaton Academy (13-7).
"I know they are two, three of the quickest guards we've played," said Wheaton Academy coach Pete Froedden. "It is good for our guards to have to go against that kind of pressure, so it was a good learning experience for them. And they've got a go-to kid (Rhashaun Epting) that is hard to guard."
Epting, who at 6-3 joined 6-3 Clark Brinkman and 6-2 Jordan Rowell trying to contain the Warriors' bigs, scored 22 points for IC Catholic (16-4). His 11 rebounds led the Knights, but Wheaton Academy won the board battle 43-28.
"They just had a lot of height on us," Epting said. "We just have to do a better job rebounding and we would have been fine in the game."
In a frenetic first half Wheaton Academy countered a 12-11 deficit after one quarter and looked for major separation with a 30-20 lead late in the second. IC scored 5 points in the last 11.5 seconds, Troy Burrows coming straight off the bench to bank in a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to trim the Knights' halftime deficit to 30-25.
"We stood our ground a lot and we fought really hard. I'm proud of my team for it," Epting said.
Wheaton Academy held the lead throughout the second half, a Sutton layup giving the Knights their closest encroachment, 43-42, late in the third quarter.
Wheaton Academy turned the ball over six times in the fourth quarter, but the inspired Lindstedt's two putbacks and inside basket spread the lead to 60-52 with 2:09 left. IC managed an Epting free throw from there.
"It was definitely nice to be able to play the best team from the Blue Division and see where we're at, at this point in the season. I thought we played very hard, so I was proud of that fact," said IC coach T.J. Tyrrell.