AURORA – No matter the year, it always seems the two regular season games between rivals Marmion and Aurora Central Catholic are close. Despite a combined 10 wins between the teams, Saturday night's game provided the same raucous atmosphere and supercharged fans, with Marmion pulling out an 84-78 win.
Even with just two wins on the year, ACC played Marmion close, answering a number of fourth quarter runs from the Cadets to keep the game close. Still, Marmion’s size inside proved to be too much as the Cadets won their eighth game in their last 12 chances.
With under a minute to go in the fourth quarter, the Chargers twice had chances to make it a one-possession game. But a turnover and a Marmion rebound on its own free throw attempt kept ACC at bay to give the Cadets the home victory.
“We tried to blow it as many ways as we could there in the fourth quarter but I was proud of our guys for hanging in,” Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. “We’ve had a good stretch but we’re inconsistent. We’ve had a good half and then a bad half. I love where we’re at and I think we’re getting there, I think we just need to find some consistency.”
ACC (2-13, 0-4 SCC) was undersized coming in and played a zone to try and combat the mismatches inside. Marmion (8-10, 2-1 SCC) countered by putting 6-foot-5 forward Jake Esp at the free-throw line to catch entry passes from the Cadets’ guards.
Esp had options from there, earning a number of driving layups from both elbows while also finding open cutters for 3-pointers and back-door baskets. During the first four minutes of the second quarter, the Cadets' lead swelled to 33-18 as Esp had a layup, jumper and an assist on a Michael Murphy’s 3-pointer. Murphy’s 3 gave the Cadets’ their biggest lead of the night to that point at 33-18.
“We tried to work it in the middle and I tried to either drive or pass to see what was open; we just tried to work the middle,” Esp said. “Even with Jordan (Glasgow) in there, we were trying to attack the middle and do it again, and it worked.”
ACC made halftime adjustments and guarded better to start the third quarter. Back-to-back baskets to start the third quarter from Sean Harreld and Sean Anger cut the Marmion lead to 45-38.
The Cadets answered with a 7-0 run midway through the third quarter that pushed their lead back to 52-38 after a Danny Bicknell lay-up. The cat-and-mouse game continued into the fourth quarter with ACC hanging around, cutting the Marmion lead to 78-72 with 52 seconds to go after a Brandon Babler bucket.
ACC had a near steal on the inbounds pass but Andy Czerak was falling out of bounds and was forced to throw the ball up for grabs, where Marmion’s Michael Sheehan corralled the ball and was fouled. The senior guard split a pair of free throws, with Tyler Maryanski grabbing the rebound on the miss, forcing an ACC foul. Sheehan knocked down both free throws to put the game away.
“I thought we played pretty decently but I thought we buried ourselves there in the first quarter and it was too big a hole to get all the way out of," ACC coach Nate Drye said. "We spent too much time chasing – we have to get off to a better start.”
Drye was complimentary of his guards, especially sophomores Nick Faltz and Evan Schuetz, who are still learning on the job. Faltz poured in a career-high 24 points, leading all scorers.
“We’re getting better. It's just been a process; guys have to figure out how to play,” Drye said. “Nick and Evan played well tonight, they were probably our two leading scorers. They have to figure out how to play. They have no varsity experience and then they’re coming in and they’re really starting to ball. It just takes time; I can’t expect kids to be where they’re going to be to start the year when they have no varsity experience.”
Glasgow scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the second half to lead Marmion while Sheehan (17 points), Esp (15) and Danny Bicknell (14) were all in double figures for the Cadets.