Comments from the crowd can be hurtful. This one could only have helped -- at least for St. Francis.
After Wheaton Academy's Jameson Teuscher swished two straight 3-point baskets early in the third quarter of Monday's Class 3A Marmion boys basketball regional quarterfinal, St. Francis coach Erin Dwyer took a timeout.
Dwyer strongly reminded the Spartans, "We don't play like that" -- and from the bleachers across the Aurora gymnasium a female voice shouted in agreement: "No, we don't!"
It took a couple minutes to sink in, but No. 6 seed St. Francis responded with a 20-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to eliminate the No. 10 Warriors 69-54. St. Francis (12-16) advances to Wednesday's regional semifinal against No. 4 seed Glenbard South.
"You have to work hard on every possession and force teams to hit shots with a hand in their face, and you can't let a good team like that shoot in comfort, and we weren't doing a good job defensively," Dwyer said.
"I don't care if teams hit shots if we work hard. That's what bothered me. It wasn't even about the scoreboard anymore, it was about just how we're supposed to play," he said.
Wheaton Academy, which all season played far better than its 6-21 record indicated, made 19 of 34 field goals through three quarters led by Teuscher, Jack Dykema, Jimmy Paganis and J.D. Gunn, who led Wheaton Academy with 15 points and 14 rebounds, 9 offensive.
Trailing 50-43 with 2:37 left in the third quarter, however, St. Francis went to work. Matt Cooney and Alex Rueth turned defense to offense and Mike Cascella swept a pass the length of the baseline so George Hamman could hit a 3 at the buzzer for a 56-50 Spartans lead.
"This season we've been starting a little slow in the first quarter, second quarter. But we feel confident throughout the game and as long as we play our game we can go far, compete against anyone," said Cooney, whose 12 points nestled between Andrew Harvey's 20 and Cascella's 12.
The run continued into the fourth, and when Cascella nailed a 3 from the right corner with 3:40 to play seemingly out of nowhere St. Francis led 63-50. After that solid three quarters, Wheaton Academy made just one basket in 16 fourth-quarter attempts.
"Tough year for our team and our guys, but again a lot of experience coming back, they gained a lot," said Warriors coach David Osborn. "It's no fun to get beat up throughout the course of the year so hopefully we take this into our summer and just into our preparation for next year and we come back better than we were this year."