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Aurora Central's Mike O'Donnell starts the celebration after the Chargers defeated Marmion Academy in a regional game on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Aurora Central did it again.
The Chargers made just enough free throws in the fourth quarter and held off Marmion 53-51 in the first round of the Class 3A IMSA Regional Monday.
It allowed ACC to claim the rubber match in the season series between the two clubs. The Chargers had won the opener 63-60 but were blown out 60-36 by the Cadets just 10 days ago. For the second year in a row, though, coach Nate Drye’s team held off their rivals in a first-round playoff game. It evens the all-time series at 38-38.
“We were struggling at the line for awhile there and (point guard) Anthony Andujar finally got the lid off for us, and he also did a nice job handling the ball and their pressure down the stretch,” said Drye, whose team made just 4-of-9 from the line through three quarters but then made 13-of-18 in the fourth.
Andujar was 5-of-6 in the fourth and finished with 13 points. Senior forward Phil Schuetz led the way with a game-high 17 points for the Chargers (15-12), who move on to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against conference rival and top seed Wheaton Academy, a team that has beaten the Chargers twice.
Marmion led 20-17 with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter, but ACC reeled off an 11-0 run to close the quarter and take control with a 28-20 advantage at the break.
“Shawn Soris (11 points) had a big three-pointer in that run,” said Drye.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the third, scoring just six points each. Schuetz scored on a layup to open the final frame and gave ACC its biggest lead of the game — 36-26 — but the decision was far from over.
The Cadets closed within 44-42 on two Mike Sheehan free throws with 2:14 remaining, but ACC made the rest of its points from the free-throw line, making 9-of-12.
Sophomore post Jake Esp led the Cadets (10-19) with 16 points, despite battling foul trouble all night. Sophomore Jordan Glasgow added 13 and Alex Theisen, who hit a three-pointer in the final four seconds for the final margin, finished with 10.
“We couldn’t make a shot (late in the second quarter),” said Marmion coach Ryan Paradise. “For the first 16 minutes, I thought we were scared to death out there and they were the aggressors. We regrouped in the third and fourth, but that’s tough when you’re always trying to come from behind and that’s been our M.O. all year.”