The Montini boys basketball team trailed Burlington Central by only 4 points at halftime in Aurora despite 13 first-half turnovers.
"Talk about blessings," Montini coach Daryl Thomas said.
But the Class 3A Marmion regional game unraveled for the Broncos when Burlington Central scored the first 10 points of the third quarter to pave the way for a 63-47 victory.
"That (run to start the second half) devastated us," Thomas said. "We never recovered from it. Once again, the turnovers (to start the third). (The turnovers) killed us."
The Rockets (26-3), the top seed among the Marmion and Sycamore regionals, will face either Glenbard South or St. Francis Friday night.
The Broncos, No. 7, had their season close at 11-16.
Zach Schutta and Joey Ratzek were the engineers for the latest Central victory by leading a balanced offensive attack with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
"We expect that out of Zach," Central coach Brett Porto said. "This is his last varsity season."
"You always hear coaches say, 'The first three minutes (of the third quarter are paramount),' " Ratzek said. "You have to come out in the opening minutes of the second half and get that intensity going."
Central scored the last 4 points of the second quarter to break the final of three deadlocks to take a 26-22 lead into halftime.
TaVontae Harris and Schutta had bookend 3-pointers to sandwich conventional field goals from Ratzek and Michael Kalusa for a 36-22 lead in the first few minutes of the third quarter.
"We just had to grind the game out the entire time," Schutta said. "We can't give (underdog) teams like that any sort of confidence."
But after only five lost possessions in the opening half, Central would have its own issues with misplays in the third quarter.
Montini, which received a game-high 18 points from Jayston Williams, climbed back with 7 points by the end of the quarter as the Rockets suffered 8 turnovers in the third.
But when Patrick Mayfield and Ratzek opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back buckets, Montini would never come within a single-figure deficit again.
Anthony Thompson tried to revive the Broncos' spirits by scoring 8 of his 10 points in the final quarter, but Emmanuel Wells' backbreaking 3-point play for the Rockets with three minutes, 31 seconds to play more or less sealed the game.
Inserted for the first time late in the fourth quarter, the Rockets' Javyon Johnson scored consecutive field goals to symbolically put the game away.
"I thought we did all right in the second half," Porto said.
Wells and Kalusa scored 9 points each for the Rockets.