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A basketball team rarely commits more fouls than it surrenders points, but that’s exactly what happened during the opening half of Friday’s Suburban Christian Blue opener between St. Francis and Marmion in Aurora.
The Spartans committed 10 fouls, but allowed only three field goals and just eight points overall to take a commanding lead of 27-8 at halftime.
The Cadets turned to a press to mount quite a remarkable comeback, but never cut their deficit to less than five points, falling 61-50.
“We knew they’d come back and that was the gist of our halftime,” St. Francis coach Bob Ward said. “Even though they were making this huge comeback, when you’re making that comeback you want the clock to stop. If, at the same time, you’re hitting free throws, it kind of negates that comeback and we were able to do that.”
St. Francis made 29-of-36 free throws. Marmion also spent most of the night at the charity stripe, converting 22-of-31 attempts. The flow of the game was certainly stop-and-go as the teams were whistled for 49 fouls.
St. Francis (4-0, 1-0) only lead 8-5 with 3:26 left in the opening quarter, but Andrew Kimball’s three-point shooting and Tim Zettinger’s smooth guard play highlighted an impressive 19-3 run to close out the first half. The Spartans held the Cadets scoreless for the final 5:16 of the second quarter and without a field goal for the final 7:18. Zettinger missed the second half with an ankle injury.
“We just came out with high pressure and we were prepared for their hitters, their offense,” Kimball said. “We emphasized having juice, which is intensity, and came out and took over.”
The full court press implemented by Marmion (1-5, 0-1) helped force 10 turnovers in the second half after the Spartans only gave it away twice in the first two quarters. Meanwhile, Mike Sheehan (10 points) connected on a couple three-pointers and the Cadets attacked the hoop and took advantage of the hack-a-thon.
“In the second half, the guys really laid it on the line,” Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. “You’re not going to win many varsity games if you score eight points in the first half. We climbed back, but the problem was we got overly aggressive with the press and fouled.”
Kimball led the winners with 19 points and sophomore Jason Sullivan scored 10 and filled in nicely for Zettinger. Colin Kavanaugh led the Cadets with 13 points while Matt Smith added 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds.