AURORA – The Kaneland boys basketball team somehow survived losing a 15-point lead, losing its leading scorer to five fouls, and missing a shot on its final possession of the game to escape Marmion’s Alumni Hall with a 49-47 nonconference victory Tuesday night.
The Knights (9-5) led, 37-22, with two minutes left in the third quarter, but the Cadets (7-10) went on a 15-1 run over the next three minutes to pull within one. Marmion finally tied the game at 47 with 48 seconds left on a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Michael Sheehan.
Kaneland took a timeout to draw up a play for the last shot and point guard Drew David found 6-foot-3 senior Tyler Carlson on a backdoor cut. Carlson missed the shot, but was able to grab the rebound on the other side of the rim.
“Coach [Brian] Johnson had a great play call there,” Carlson said. “Drew made a great pass. I missed the first one but I jumped back and got the second one.”
The “second one” came from the free-throw line as Carlson was fouled on the rebound. He hit a pair of free throws with 1.3 seconds left to give Kaneland the win.
“Ty’s been clutch all year long,” Johnson said. “It really started at [the] Plano [Christmas Classic] when he’s been feeling it and it’s kind of rolled all the way through. He made some big free throws and was playing a position and a play we usually run for John [Pruett] and he was able to execute on that.”
Carlson actually scored the last seven points of the game for the Knights, all on free throws, so he wasn‘t feeling any trepidation stepping to the line with the game in the balance.
“I felt pretty confident,” he said. “Once I hit the first one and we got the lead, it felt pretty good.”
Kaneland needed Carlson to step up because Pruett fouled out with four minutes left in the game after scoring 16 points to match Carlson. Cole Carlson added 10 points for the Knights.
“The first three quarters we played really hard and John Pruett was outstanding in my opinion,” Johnson said. “When he goes, we look pretty good, and I challenged him today and he stepped up. I’m very proud of how he responded.”
Marmion struggled out of the gate, falling behind, 8-0. The Cadets went scoreless for the first five minutes and the only five points they scored in the first quarter came from senior guard Michael Murphy off the bench. Marmion didn’t get any points from a starter until Tyler Maryanski’s steal and dunk midway through the second quarter.
“We were not ready to play,” Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. “We had unforced turnovers. I think we had 13 at halftime. … We were forcing things that weren’t there on the offensive end. Guys were just kind of tripping over their own feet. I don’t know what it was, but we certainly didn’t deserve to win tonight.”
The Cadets trailed 23-11 at the half, but started to make a run late in the third quarter behind the play of junior guard Jordan Glasgow. He scored on a baseline drive with 29 seconds left in the period to pull Marmion within 10. He hit a pair of free throws seven seconds later to cut the deficit to single digits, then came up with a steal and fed the ball to Maryanski, who passed it to Jacob Esp at the free-throw line for a shot at the buzzer that hung on the front of the rim for a second before falling in.
Johnson protested the official’s decision to count the basket and was given a technical foul for being out of the coaching box. Maryanski made both of the ensuing foul shots and suddenly the Kaneland lead was just 38-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
Glasgow, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half, hit a 3-pointer from the left wing at the start of the final period to make it a one-point game.
“We knew they were going to make a charge,” Carlson said. “Marmion’s a great team. We knew that coming in. We just tried to stay composed with John, one of our main ballhandlers, out. Drew was doing a great job controlling the pressure and we just held on and got the win.”
Danny Bicknell pulled down 10 rebounds for Marmion to help the Cadets win the battle on the boards, 24-22.