Marmion, Burlington Central advance to Plano final
For Marmion, the cliché of 'next man up' was truly their reality.
Without standout senior guard Jabe Haith, who suffered an ankle injury earlier in the week, Marmion trailed as much as 15 with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
Collin Wainscott, Henry Dallman and the rest of the Cadets stood up to the challenge, regardless.
"We have talked about our depth the entire season and how we think that is one of our biggest advantages: We have guys 1 through 18 that come in," Marmion coach Joe Piekarz said following the Cadets' stunning 72-69 victory over Kaneland in the Plano Christmas Classic semifinal on Thursday. "They do it in practice. They do it when they get their minutes, whether it's a close game or a 30-point game. They did it."
The Cadets (11-3) found a way to scrap to an initial one-point lead with two minutes left in the frame to rectify a first half where it surrendered 43 points and trailed at the break.
"We started out pretty rough in the first half," said Wainscott, who finished with 25 points. "Coach talked to us in the locker room. He changed our mindset ... we got to beat them. Our role players stepped up and we did an amazing job. Our bench stepped up a lot. They were loud and I [also] made plays."
The first-half performance also didn't sit well with Haith on the bench.
"Jabe gave a great speech at halftime," Piekarz said. "Didn't light them up, but basically said: 'That was unacceptable defense what we witnessed out there in the first half. We need to fix it ... when I talked to him before the game, I said 'you need to be the best teammate you can be on the bench because you're out. We had so many guys [respond]: Henry Dallman, who is usually playing three or four minutes to give Trevon Roots a break, gets a huge charge and knocks down some threes for us. It's just nice to have that depth of guys who are just ready when it's their turn."
Marmion, who last won the Plano Christmas Classic in consecutive years in 1974 and 1975, will have their chance at a new chapter in history. Marmion will face Burlington Central-Peoria Notre Dame in Friday's final at 8 p.m.
Wainscott drained a three to give the Cadets a 55-53 lead to open the fourth quarter, which set the table for a frantic finish over the final three minutes of the game.
Kaneland guard Gevon Grant hit a layup to give Kaneland a 65-64 lead, and moments later, Marmion standout forward Trevon Roots (21 points, four rebounds) was tagged with an illegal screen with 2:54 left to foul out.
After Wainscott hit two free throws to give Marmion the 68-67 lead with 55 seconds left, Dallman (10 points, three rebounds) artfully slid over for a charge on Kaneland junior Troyer Carlson, which was his final foul of the contest. Bradley Stratton then hit 1 of 2 free throws for Marmion to inch their lead to two with 32 seconds left.
Following a Kaneland timeout, Marmion was able to come up with a loose ball following Johnny Spallasso's shot attempt and draw a foul. Wainscott sunk two free throws with 17 seconds left. Kaneland's Luke Wituk responded with a layup to pull within 71-69, but Dallman hit 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds left. Spallasso's shot attempt fell short and Marmion survived late.
Kaneland (13-2) was paced by Carlson's 22 points. Parker Violett finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
"They hit some big shots. You tip your hat to them," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "We got in some foul trouble [and] that hurt us. They got in some foul trouble, so it hurt them. We didn't capitalize. First half, we had the lead, [Marmion] started getting runs. They're a good team. We think we're a pretty good team. They made less mistakes down the stretch and they hit big shots, so you tip your hat to them."
Burlington Central 55, Peoria Notre Dame 47:
In the second semifinal, a rematch of last year's tournament championship game, Burlington Central prevailed over Peoria Notre Dame 55-47.
With 55 seconds left, Rockets guard Caden West (seven points) hit two free throws to extend their lead to 52-43. Irish forward Cooper Koch hit two free throws in response, but West, again, answered at the line hitting three free throws with under 20 seconds to ice it for the Rockets and see the Cadets in Friday's final.
Belmont recruit Drew Scharnowski, who fouled out with 1:31 remaining in the contest, finished with 19 points for the Rockets.
The Rockets led 18-16 after one quarter, 33-30 at halftime and 43-36 going to the fourth.
Rolling Meadows faced an extremely tough test Thursday night in the York Jack Tosh Holiday Classic semifinals.
The Mustangs passed with flying colors, defeating Bolingbrook 76-61, but the win didn't come without some stressful moments.
Meadows led wire-to-wire, but the Raiders attack-the-basket style of play kept the Mustangs on their heels the entire game.
Senior Cameron Christie led the way for Meadows, scoring a game-high 34 points and coming up big down the stretch.
"They just made some plays in the fourth quarter between the four minute mark and the two minute mark," said Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost of Meadows. "And Cam is one of the best players in the state and he showed it tonight."
Senior forward Mark Nikolich-Wilson added 18 points for the Mustangs, Tsvet Sotirov scored 12, while senior Foster Ogbonna came up huge on the boards in the fourth quarter.
Ogbonna had 6 of his 8 rebounds in the final 8 minutes, and his superior effort helped keep the Raiders rally at bay.
Junior guard DJ Strong led the Bolingbrook attack with 11 points.
Meadows (15-1) led big early, then Bolingbrook senior Mekhi Cooper led the Raiders second quarter charge.
-- Bill Esbrook