The ability to run the floor and clog passing lanes makes IC Catholic Prep hard to handle.
Wheaton Academy's boys basketball team came within sniffing distance and there went the Knights, off to a 62-47 Metro Suburban Blue victory at the Warrior Dome in West Chicago.
"Offensively, there were some spurts where it looked pretty good," said Warriors coach David Osborn. "And then defensively -- again in spurts -- we're talking executing the way we want to on the defensive end of the floor. But again we've got to do it for 32 minutes to have some success, especially when we play some tough teams on our side of the conference."
The final score did not reflect the contest. IC Catholic (14-7, 5-2) led 51-45 after Wheaton Academy's Marcus Bult scored on a putback with 1:46 left in the game. The Knights' Alex Meurer answered with a layup and Kevin Cheng, Austin Reed and younger brother Amari Reed made 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch.
"They have a lot of good 3-point shooters, they shoot a lot of 3s and when you've got guys that do that your lead is never safe," said Knights coach T.J. Tyrrell. "I thought we did a great job attacking the basket, getting to the free-throw line and knocking down our free throws tonight."
Getting close then denied was a pattern for Wheaton Academy (6-14, 2-5). The Warriors, led by Jimmy Paganis with 18 points and Bult with 13, took a quick 5-3 lead then ICCP forced 4 turnovers to exit the quarter on a 10-2 run. The Knights led from then on.
"I think we were able to move the ball pretty well," said Cheng, the junior guard who scored 9 points. "I think the biggest thing, help defense. When their guys get into the lane, driving to the baseline, we're able to help, we're able to talk and get our hands up and not allow them an easy basket."
Yet after trailing 26-23 at halftime Wheaton Academy did those things. Bult scored on an inbounds play, Paganis on a drive and Bult again, a 3 from the top of the key to pull within 32-30 at 4:32 of the third quarter, the game's critical juncture.
ICCP followed with an Austin Reed 3, an inside basket by Meurer, and a Reed steal and three-point play. The 8-point run was enough, and Austin Reed finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals; Amari Reed scored 15 points with 9 rebounds, 3 steals.
Summing it up, Paganis said, "We've got to be mentally engaged throughout the whole game."