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Even Thornton coach Troy Jackson couldn't believe his team survived Eisenhower Monday night in a Class 4A Marian Catholic Regional quarterfinal.
Nothing went right, from his team not being able to stop Cardinals guard Tyrone Terrell, while also giving up a total of 17 three-pointers -- 15 of those helped create a 12-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
Saving the day in overtime was the Wildcats' Demarcus Turner, who grabbed a missed three-point attempt with time running out, dribbled around two defenders before banking in an off-balance shot for an 80-78 win.
"That's the biggest shot I ever made in my life," said Turner, who finished with 18 points. "I got the rebound and guys were coming at me and I kind of split it, rose up and made the bank shot.
"We had to buckle down and believe in each other. This was a total team effort."
The Wildcats (14-11) will meet Crete-Monee on Wednesday at 7:30 pm, while the Cardinals finished their season at 6-18.
They were led by Terrell's 34 points which included eight three-pointers.
Nick Curta added 15 while his brother Vinny Curta tied the game 74-74 with 55.5 second left in regulation with the Cardinals 17th and last three-pointer of the night.
"We can get a lead but we get a little tentative late in games," Eisenhower coach Mike Curta said. "I'm proud of them they hung in there and battled."
The Cardinals built a 62-50 lead going into the fourth and led 64-52 before the Wildcats rallied with a 16-0 run for a 68-64 lead behind eight points by Rayshoun Bruce and seven by Justin Taylor. That was the Wildcats' first lead since 6-5. The Cardinals ended the quarter with a 10-6 run to force the overtime.
Bruce finished with 13 points while Taylor added 27. Brian Nicholson had eight of his 10 in the third quarter for the Wildcats.
Nick Curta tied the game at 78-78 with a pair of free throws with 1:24 left. From there, the Wildcats played for the last shot that produced Turner's heroics.
"Guts and determination," said Jackson, who has never lost a first round playoff game in his 10 years at Thornton. "(Turner) is a gritty kid and I expected that to go in when it left his hands."