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When it comes to drama, crosstown rivals Aurora Central and Marmion seldom disappoint, and they didn’t again Friday night.
Senior guard Shawn Soris came to the host Chargers’ rescue, making five of six free throws in the final minute to lift ACC to a 63-60 Suburban Christian Blue victory.
It shouldn’t have been that close, but the Chargers blew a 23-point lead in the third quarter and had to rally behind Soris and the outstanding boardwork of senior forward Mike O’Donnell off the bench.
“As bad as it was, I can’t imagine how bad I’d feel if we didn’t finish it off,” said relieved ACC coach Nate Drye, whose team climbs to 8-7 and 3-2 in the league.
A 28-10 advantage in the second quarter gave the Chargers a 43-24
lead at the break and 90 seconds into the third quarter it was 47-24 after point guard Anthony Andujar sank a pair of free throws after Marmion’s Matt Smith was whistled for his fourth foul then called for a technical after he protested too much.
The Cadets promptly went on an 18-2 run and trailed by 10 (51-41) entering the fourth period. ACC began to wilt under Marmion’s pressure, turning the ball over 10 times in the third quarter and seven more in the fourth as the visitors kept whittling away at the lead.
“They always play hard,” Drye said of the Cadets. “It was a situation where all the pressure rotates from them to us because once they make a couple baskets and chip away we don’t want to be the team that blows a 20-point lead.
“We started playing tense and doing nothing we had done in the first half and we don’t function well like that. We’ve gotta get out and get moving.”
Senior guard Alex Theisen came off the bench and provided a late spark. His steal and layup with 2:32 remaining cut the lead to 58-54, Mike Sheehan (12 points) drilled a three-pointer with 1:43 remaining and then Theisen (11 points) had another steal at midcourt and dropped in a layup with 1:18 left.
Marmion led 59-58, it’s first since midway through the first quarter, but ACC regrouped and held on behind Soris.
O’Donnell, who had 12 points off the bench, had six of his 12 rebounds and three of his five blocks in the fourth period.
“I thought, by far and away, Mike O’Donnell was the best player on the floor for us tonight,” Drye said of the 6-2 forward. “He was so active in the middle. He’s probably got a negative two-inch vertical (jump) but he probably had seven or eight blocks, he was very active in there. He scored a lot, too.”
Sophomore Jordan Glasgow, who attacks the rim like he attacks the line of scrimmage as a running back for the Marmion football team, helped keep his team in it with a game-high 19 points.
Soris matched O’Donnell’s dozen points and Phil Schuetz had 11.