Anthony Thompson had the ultimate sixth man. Sixth woman, actually.
Spurred by the thought of his late grandmother, the 5-foot-10 sophomore guard from Montini calmly went 4 of 5 from the free-throw line and scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to help defeat Marmion 87-83 in a Class 3A Marmion regional quarterfinal on Monday in Aurora.
"She was very close to me and that kind of hurt a lot. But I was back and ready to play," Thompson said of his grandmother, Paula Moore, who passed away earlier this month.
"I just had to get this one for her because I know she was looking down on me," he said. "If she was still here she would have been at this game, so I had to show up for her."
It was the second straight year of playoff shootouts between No. 7 seed Montini and No. 9 Marmion. Montini (11-16) lost to its Chicago Catholic League counterpart 90-88 at this very stage a year ago. On Tuesday Marmion (5-23) made 30 of 38 free throws and Montini countered with 28 of 35, helping surmount a 70-69 Cadets lead with 4:17 left to play.
"They listened, they took care of the basketball, they were patient," Montini second-year coach Daryl Thomas said after his first playoff win. "We took a couple ill-advised shots just before that, but they kind of settled down and they understood that, hey, they had to foul us and we had to make our free throws, and they did it."
Marmion twice closed within 2 points over the last 14 seconds, once on a 3-pointer by senior Brandon Currie, who played his last prep game for Cadets coach Joe Currie, and again on a Mick Sullivan putback.
Each time Montini pushed the lead up, on free throws by Thompson and the final 2 by RayJ Dennis with 3.2 seconds left.
Montini, which advanced to Tuesday's regional semifinal against No. 1 seed Burlington Central, got a game-high 26 points from Jayston Williams.
Balanced Marmion sent five players into double figures, headed by 20 from Tommy Surges, who went 14 of 17 from the foul line.
"The big thing was record-wise obviously we wanted a few more wins, but we battled with teams all the time," Joe Currie said. "We just had to find different ways to finish some things and that'll be something that we can build on for next year. But I couldn't be more proud of the group, my seniors especially, knowing what was in store for them. They never gave up.
"That's the biggest thing that I'm most proud of them, is that they fought. No regrets. We always said no regrets and I don't think they had any regrets."