Bult, Wheaton Academy defeat Lisle
When his feet are set and he's in rhythm, Wheaton Academy's Marcus Bult doesn't much care where he shoots the basketball.
The 3-pointer from the top of the key looked good on Wednesday.
At the Class 2A Aurora Central Catholic regional semifinal against Lisle, the 6-foot-5 senior guard made six straight shots spanning the second and fourth quarters, including two swished 3s from above the circle.
He was not alone. Perfect 7-for-7 third-quarter shooting separated No. 3 seed Wheaton Academy from No. 5 Lisle in a 60-37 Warriors victory. Wheaton Academy (21-10) advanced to Friday's regional final against No. 2 Marengo (27-3).
"It was huge for us in the second half to just hit a couple shots. Even seeing one or two go in gives us all the confidence and momentum starts shifting," Bult said.
"They hit a couple in the first half and that gave them momentum, but I think we were able to weather the storm and hit a few shots of our own, and play better defense the second half," said Bult, who led all scorers with 19 points. Fellow marksman Bryson Mitchell made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for the Warriors.
Lisle (18-14) got cracking from long range, too, 3s by Joe LaScala and Demetrius King Jr. pacing a 12-8 lead after one quarter. A Ray Bandzoumouna drive, and Connor Nigro and Bandzoumouna 3s had the Lions up 20-10 at 5:56 of the second quarter.
That drew a response from Wheaton Academy coach Steve Thonn -- a 3-2 zone with 6-5 Max Scharnowski up top.
"I think it was the defense that helped us," Thonn said. "We were just on their shooters, and our length gives some teams some problems just getting their shots off. I thought we did a good job in it."
Starting with a Mitchell 3, Wheaton Academy's 14-2 run provided a 24-22 halftime lead. It didn't help Lisle that sparkplug guard King sat the last 2:52 of the half with two fouls. He finished with a team-high 13 points.
"The change of defense to a zone is where their length really started to bother us," said Lisle coach Mark LaScala. "We were unsure on every single pass because of their length and we got to be a little tentative, and I think their length caused that."
Sean Etzkorn's putback kept Lisle within 29-28 at 3:29 of the third quarter. Wheaton Academy took off again, a 14-0 run featuring two Bult 3s, a Scharnowski steal and dunk, and a Bryce Swift 3.
The Warriors led 43-28 entering the fourth quarter and weren't threatened again.
Despite the loss Mark LaScala called it "an unbelievable season" that included Lisle's first conference title since 2004. It came without its top returning player, 6-6 point guard Connor Webb, who tore an ACL in late July. The Division II Trevecca University recruit remained a fixture with the team.
"I feel like we as a group have left this program better than we found it -- which isn't saying it was bad before," Webb said. "But we left everything here. Not just the team, the town has really embodied us."