AURORA – It was only 10 days ago that Aurora Central Catholic coach Nate Drye had every bad superlative to say about his team after a blowout loss at the hands of rival Marmion.
The Chargers didn’t have long to wait to exact revenge. Both teams had Monday circled on their calendars after the pairings were released, pitting the rivals for a third meeting this season in the IHSA Class 3A IMSA Regional quarterfinal.
This time, the only superlatives Drye could utter were positive after the Chargers hung on for a 53-51 win.
ACC led by as many as ten in the fourth quarter before holding off a late-charging Cadets team that embarrassed the Chargers just over a week ago.
“My guys were ready to go tonight. What happened 10 days ago was actually probably a good thing for us. There’s not a lot of grey area when you take a beating like that,” Drye said, referencing ACC’s recent 60-36 loss to Marmion. “We were really focused, dialed in and ready to play tonight. We did exactly what we wanted to do. We weren’t going to give up the 3-point shot like we did last time.”
ACC pinched off the 3-point lanes for Marmion, forcing a pass into the high post. The Cadets lost many one-on-one battles to the basket as ACC had its biggest lead of the night, 37-26, early in the fourth quarter after Shawn Soris split a pair of free throws.
The Cadets trailed by ten after a third quarter where they connected on only one field goal. Marmion slowly made up the difference late in the fourth with an Alex Theisen 3-pointer sandwiched in between four Mike Sheehan free throws that brought the Cadets within 44-42.
Marmion had a chance to keep the game at a possession, but a turnover and a block by Phil Schuetz on breakaway helped ACC stand firm. The Chargers went 6 for 8 from the free-throw line in the last minute to hold on. Shuetz and Anthony Andujar went a combined 9 for 12 in the second half to help seal the win.
“We worked really hard in practice after that loss. We were really slow that game so we just came out and worked hard tonight,” Andujar said. “We do a lot of press-breaking stuff in practice and work a ton on free-throws. Tonight it really paid off.”
The Cadets had a last gasp as Jake Esp banked in a layup with 13 seconds to go that cut the Chargers’ lead to 52-48.
After Shuetz split a pair of free throws, Theisen hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left to pull Marmion within 53-51. The Cadets couldn’t get a steal on the ensuing inbounds play and time expired.
“We were scared to death for the first 16 minutes. We weren’t ready for the moment and they were,” Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. “We were sped up and their defense had a lot to do with that. When we go down, it was too late for us to come back. We didn’t hit any three’s until late in the third and we weren’t in any offensive flow.”
ACC broke open a close game late in the second quarter and led 28-20 at halftime. Marmion went without a field goal for an eight-minute span that stretched from late in the second quarter into the third. By that time, ACC built a ten-point lead and forced Marmion to play catch-up.
“We had Michael [O’Donnell] and Brad [Searles] playing out on them and slowing them down, containing them as much as possible,” Shuetz said. “We trusted them and they did their job. We hard to work as hard as possible on defense and just have confidence.”
Shuetz dropped a game-high 16 points, netting eight in each half while Andujar had 13. The Chargers move on to play top-seeded Wheaton Academy tonight.
Esp led Marmion with 14 points while Jordan Glasgow had 13.