Foul trouble kept Timothy Christian's Brandon Orange on the bench for large chunks of Saturday night's game and it kept the Trojans' senior from having fun at times.
But the 6-foot-7 Orange still made a difference in the final minute of his team's 50-48 defeat of Lisle. The win enabled the Trojans to close the Lisle Thanksgiving Tournament with a 3-1 record and the second-place plaque.
Orange picked up his third foul early in the second quarter and then his fourth whistle just 18 seconds into the second half. But while he was watching from the bench, his team kept scrapping away at Lisle and took a 40-38 lead into the fourth quarter, which allowed Orange to return and help his team pull out the thrilling win.
"The foul trouble was unfortunate, but the coaches told me to stick in the game and not check out and just wait for my opportunity to get back in," said Orange, who was named to the all-tourney team. "I just wanted to get back in and try and play hard."
The Lions, who placed third at the round-robin tourney at 2-2, had taken a 46-43 lead with 3:36 left after a three-point play by Cameron Stitt. But after a Ty Merrick basket cut the lead to 46-45, the Trojans took the lead in the final minute when Orange posted up inside, took a pass to the post and finished off the play with an easy bucket and a 47-46 lead.
"Michael Thomas is a good passer," he said of his teammate. "I was posting up hard and he saw me and found me and I got an easy layup, so that was good."
The next minute was wild as Merrick hit both ends of a bonus situation for Timothy Christian, Elisha Basnight countered with two free throws for the Lions, and Lisle then missed a front end. When Orange split a pair of free throws with 9.1 seconds left, it was a 50-48 game, but the Lions had two chances from there -- a drive that rolled off the rim and then a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Jay McGrath that just missed.
"It was a great high school basketball game," Lisle coach Mark LaScala said. "I mean anybody who paid to see this got their money's worth."
After losing by three points on Friday to tourney champion Westmont, LaScala felt much better about his team's play down the stretch on Saturday even in defeat.
"We were in a tight game last night and I didn't like our execution at the end. I thought our execution tonight was much better," he said.
For the Lions, McGrath led the way with 11 points and 8 rebounds, with Stitt adding 10 points and 2 steals on his way to all-tourney honors.
Matt Owens scored a game-high 13 points off the bench to pace the Trojans, while Thomas tallied 10 and Merrick and Orange each finished with 9.
"I'm proud of the boys. All four games they have played really hard," new Trojans coach Scott Plaisier said. "One of the ways we try and measure success is how hard we play and I thought all four games of this tournament against really good competition that we competed every night ."