Trailing Kaneland at halftime, Marmion's boys basketball team made a concerted effort to take advantage of its size advantage in the frontcourt and step up the defense Tuesday night.
Both plans worked.
Senior 6-foot-9 center Mick Sullivan scored 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half and the Cadets (1-1) limited the Knights (0-1) to just 22 second-half points during their 68-52 victory in the second day of the Ken Peddy Windmill City Classic at Batavia.
"I think our defense really translated into offense in the second half," said Sullivan, who grabbed 16 rebounds and added a pair of steals. "I knew I needed to come out and help the team."
He definitely did that.
Sullivan put on a show in the third quarter when he scored 15 points on perfect 6 for 6 shooting from the floor as the Cadets turned a 30-28 halftime deficit into a 46-38 lead.
"I think the big guy (Sullivan) did a good job to get in position to score," said Cadets coach Tony Young, who earned his first victory at the school. "That's a huge thing for us. Last night (loss to Wheaton Warrenville South), he didn't do that.
"Playing the way he did tonight, that will always give us an opportunity to be in the game."
Senior guard Evan Pugh came off the bench to score 8 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Cadets went on a 9-1 surge to extend their lead to 15 at 60-45 with 2:13 remaining.
Junior guard Tommy Surges supported the cause with 11 points as the Cadets forced 21 turnovers and won the rebounding battle, 39-31.
"We were guarding the right way," said Young. "We played the right way. We were able to set the tone with our defense and I want to be able to do more like that this year."
"Coach (Young) stresses defense and I love it," said Sullivan. "He emphasizes defense. It's what we work on in practice all the time."
Matt Olson led the Knights with 12 points while Kyle Stuart chipped in with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
"I felt like in the first half we were playing more of our game and even in the second half I thought we did a good job of drawing fouls early," said Knights coach Joe Conroy. "We just couldn't capitalize on those things.
"As they cranked up the defense, every time we shot it was one time and out. We might have had three or four offensive rebounds the whole game. They had 21 offensive rebounds. You don't win basketball games when you give up 21 offensive rebounds."
The Knights also had no answer for Sullivan.
"He's a dominant player," said Conroy. "He did a great job."