WHEATON – The St. Francis boys basketball team jumped out to a big lead quickly Friday night, watched it slowly melt away, then rallied late to pull out a 46-42 victory over Marmion in Suburban Christian Conference boys basketball action.
Jason Sullivan scored the first nine points of the game for the Spartans (2-2, 1-0) on shots from beyond the arc to give St. Francis a quick six-point lead. St. Francis eventually pushed the margin to 11 points in the second quarter before the Cadets (0-6, 0-1) began to battle back.
Senior forward Tyler Maryanski gave Marmion a spark off the bench, scoring six straight points, including two on a breakaway jam off a St. Francis turnover, one of 20 the Spartans made on the night.
St. Francis led 29-22 at the half, but the Spartans struggled offensively in the second half as the Cadets switched from a 1-3-1 zone to man-to-man defense.
Marmion finally tied the game midway through the fourth quarter when Corey Friel came up with a steal and fed the ball to Jacob Esp for a layup. Esp then put the Cadets ahead, 41-39, scoring on his own rebound. Esp, a 6-foot-5 junior, finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Kilian Brown tied the game with a pair of free throws, then put St. Francis back in front to stay with a steal and jam with just more than a minute to play.
“The kid I was guarding – I could tell by his body motion he was going to go get [the pass],” Brown explained. “I beat him to the ball, ran down court, got that adrenaline, threw it down.”
Brown, of Geneva, led all scorers with 16 points. He also had seven rebounds, helping the Spartans win the battle on the boards, 33-23.
A free throw by Esp cut the St. Francis lead to one with 37 seconds left, but Sullivan hit a pair of free throws and Stuart Kurtyka made one with 13 seconds left to seal the victory.
“We just busted our butts and came out on top,” Brown said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Adam Hart, a 6-8 St. Francis senior from St. Charles, had nine rebounds and three blocks for the Spartans.