MAPLE PARK – At the onset of Wednesday’s IHSA Class 3A Kaneland Regional semifinal, it looked like it would be a typical Suburban Christian Conference clash between rivals Marmion and St. Francis.
While the game featured the usual hard-nosed, gritty play from both sides, it was the uncharacteristic defensive struggles from St. Francis that helped Marmion earn a 73-57 win.
The third-seeded Cadets (16-14) used balanced scoring to move on to face Kaneland in Friday’s regional final.
“We want to cut down the nets Friday, so we did everything we could tonight,” Marmion guard Michael Sheehan said. “We have a lot of friends on that team, so it’s a fantastic rivalry. It’s just a wonderful game; the intensity is high and everyone wants to win.”
Sheehan can usually be counted on for double-digit points for Marmion, but the senior was face-guarded for most of the night. Despite scoring six points and taking only five shots, Sheehan facilitated the offense for the rest of his teammates, helping four other Cadets score in double-figures.
The biggest boon for Marmion was the play of senior guard Corey Friel, who scored 15 points while helping stop several St. Francis runs. After second-seeded St. Francis cut into the Cadets’ 11 point second quarter lead with an 8-0 run, Friel banged home a 3-pointer with two seconds to go to help swing momentum going into halftime.
Friel was also part of the biggest sequence of the game. With Marmion clinging to a 51-44 lead with 6:05 to go, Friel was fouled by Spartans 6-foot-8 big-man Adam Hart. Hart knew it was his fifth foul, and the senior voiced his displeasure, which earned him a technical foul.
After Jake Esp hit both technical foul shots, Friel made both of his attempts to help the Cadets extend their lead to 55-44.
Because of the technical, Marmion got the ball back and broke St. Francis’ spirit after Jordan Glasgow hit a 3-pointer to push the Cadets’ lead to 58-44. The Spartans couldn’t recover from the seven-point swing as Marmion hit 6 of 8 free throws down the stretch.
“Corey Friel really got us started from deep; it was his best game of the year,” Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. “He hit a big 3 at the end of the first half that really got us going and had some nice drives as well. This was his best game, and perfect timing for it.”
Before the technical foul sequence, St. Francis (15-10) cut into what was a double-digit Marmion third quarter lead. Trailing 49-38 heading into the fourth, the Spartans went on a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 51-44.
To Spartans coach Bob Ward, it was a lot more than that sequence that decided the game.
“We didn’t rebound and they shot the ball well. When you don’t rebound and a team is shooting the ball well, they either get close-in shots or they get the ball kicked out to a shooter,” Ward said. “It wasn’t just one guy, it was three or four guys. We really tried to key on Sheehan but doing that you give some things up, and Friel hit some really big shots.”
Glasgow scored 11 of his 16 first half points in the first quarter as Marmion led, 22-16.
Along with a corner 3-pointer, Glasgow hit a number of his signature off-balance, acrobatic jumpers that somehow found the bottom of the net.
“I usually don’t try to look for my own shot offensively,” Glasgow said. “I just shot the ball and it went in. I felt much more confident in my shot after that. I started shooting more after that but once I felt like I was shooting too much, I backed off after that.”
Lucky for Glasgow – who scored a game-high 21 points – Friel (15 points), Tyler Maryanski (10) and Esp (10) were all in double figures for Marmion and more than willing to shoot.
Kilian Brown led St. Francis with 21 points while Jason Sullivan added 14.