Any win is a good win but Montini boys basketball coach Daryl Thomas admitted that his team's 56-50 victory over host Aurora Central Catholic Tuesday night meant a little more than usual.
"Man, you talk about stopping the bleeding," Thomas said as the Broncos (10-15) snapped an 11-game losing streak. "This is a really big win seeing that they're (the Chargers) one of the top teams in the region. It's good for the morale."
Montini carried a 38-37 lead into the fourth quarter but that evaporated quickly as Chargers junior guard Kyle Czerak (10 points) went on a personal 5-point run to give the home team a 42-38 with 6:29 remaining.
From there, the Broncos answered with 8 unanswered points to take the lead for good.
A 3-point play by junior forward Matt Morrissey (17 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) gave Montini a 43-42 advantage and senior teammate Michael Orr's 3-pointer extended the lead to 46-42 with 3:58 left.
Playing the final home game of his 4-year varsity career, ACC senior guard Brett Czerak narrowed the gap to 50-48 on a driving layup with 1:12 remaining.
Orr's 3-point play and pair of free throws in the final minute sealed the deal for the Broncos.
"They held their composure," said Thomas. "Our guys did a good job of staying within themselves and making some plays."
Morrissey, who scored 10 second-half points, was one of several smiling faces as the Broncos headed into the locker room.
"It feels really good," said Morrissey. "We were getting down on ourselves but it's good to get a win going into the playoffs. It's a good confidence booster."
Mychale Hyland and Yousef Mitchell added 9 and 8 points, respectively, for the short-handed Broncos, who were without the services of leading scorers Jayston Williams (injury), RayJ Dennis (injury) and Anthony Thompson (death in family).
"That's a lot of points to try and make up," said Thomas. "It was a good team win. I can't single out one person and say, 'oh, this guy did more than the other,' but if I had to, I think Matt Morrissey did a good job being that workhorse for us."
Brett Czerak scored a game-high 22 points while senior teammate Mac Cowen added 11 points as the Chargers (20-6) struggled in several different areas -- committing 15 turnovers while hitting just 5 of 20 three-point attempts and 5 of 10 free throws.
"We were awful tonight," said Chargers coach Nate Drye. "We gave them confidence and they really started playing. We wilted in the face of their pressure. We grinded away on defense but we never got anything going on offense tonight.
"There is no doubt we deserved to lose tonight. We did everything possible to lose and we did."
ACC begins Class 3A regional play next Tuesday against either Kaneland or IMSA at Sycamore.
"If we play like that again our season will be done next Tuesday," said Drye. "We've got a week to get better."