2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/8/2014 12:12 AM

IC earns share of Gold with triumph

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IC Catholic Prep did something title teams do. The Knights took Montini's best shot and responded.

IC led this boys basketball game from tipoff -- until the host Broncos took a pair of 1-point leads midway through the fourth quarter. The Knights countered with an 8-0 run then hit free throws down the stretch to win the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division contest 72-67 in Lombard.

With Friday's victory IC (17-4, 8-0) claimed a share of the SCC Gold title, its third straight.

"We don't want to end it here," said Knights coach T.J. Tyrrell. "We want to play for sole possession of the conference, and we still have two very tough games with Marian and (St. Edward) and we'll see St. Ed's in the regional. So lots still to work for."

So too for Montini (7-13, 3-3). IC was threatening to run the Broncos out of their own gym, up 21-8 late in the first quarter and scoring 41 points by halftime to lead by 10.

"After that first quarter I thought they were going to break our scoreboard," said Montini coach Brian Opoka.

Paced by senior forward Matt Brachmann and Mike Mooney, plus key baskets by Mike Delaplane, Terrence Williams and Kevin Brachmann, Matt's sophomore brother, Montini came all the way back.

The Broncos trimmed the deficit to 55-52 after three quarters, and on Jack Brady's foul-line jumper they took their first lead of the game, 57-56, with 4:52 left to play.

IC freshman Jordan Rowell converted Ross Fleming's assist for a 1-point Knights lead, but Montini countered again on Mooney's inside basket from a Matt Brachmann pass, high-low style.

Tyrrell was confident in his team's composure, declining to take a timeout. In a two-minute span IC scored 8 straight points on a Rowell chippy from Rhashaun Epting's pass, 2 Clark Brinkman free throws, a high-arching Epting jumper and an up-and-under lay-in by senior guard Anthony Taylor, who scored a personal-high 21 points. Rowell and Epting wiped clean the glass.

"That's what really turned the game for us, I felt," Tyrrell said of the rebounding.

"Down the stretch we know what we have to do to execute and finish these games -- secure boards, make sure we're boxing out and take our time," said Taylor, whose 4 free throws in the last 32 seconds held Montini at bay.

Opoka took pride in the Broncos' rally ... and lamented their 0-of-5 shooting during IC's run.

"Our kids met the challenge," he said. "They knew they got punched in the mouth, and they responded. It was hard to overcome. We made the wave all the way, we got it. We did our job, we got that one-point lead and we missed good shots."

Brinkman scored 18 points for IC. Despite first-half foul trouble and good defense on him by Mooney, Epting scored 12. Matt Brachmann also shrugged off foul trouble for 28 points, ahead of Williams' 13 and Mooney's 12.

"It's all about execution," said Williams, a sophomore guard. "We got it done, we got 67 points, now it's just all about defense. We'll work on that."

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