By Mike Miazga

Winning on the road never is easy in any sport.
So the IC Catholic Prep boys basketball team’s recent 52-35 Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division win at Aurora Central Catholic was especially satisfying.
“We avenged a loss to them earlier in the season,” said IC Catholic Prep coach TJ Tyrrell. “It was a good win on the road. ACC is a tough place to play. We had a really good week of practice and the guys felt very confident. We made some adjustments to the game plan after watching film and we wanted to take away what ACC does well and that’s cause chaos with their aggressive traps and throwing a lot of guys at the basketball. Last time we played them they had us back on our heels and we made a lot of careless turnovers. We turned the ball over 27 times at home. This time we were much more composed.”
The Knights led 16-8 after the first quarter and 22-13 at halftime. A 22-13 third-quarter run for IC Catholic Prep salted it away.
Nico Gaudio led the Knights with 17 points. Kevin Cheng had 11 points, while Alex Meurer had nine points and Kris Askew had eight points. Meurer hit one 3-pointer.
“Nico Gaudio played like a man with his strength and how he finished,” said Tyrrell. “I was proud of his effort. Khali Saunders also had a big presence and was hard to contain and that opened other things for our guys. Kris Askew also had one of his better games of the season. He handled their full-court pressure and got us in our half-court offense. Sophomore Ryan Wojtalewicz was outstanding with his help-side defense and boxing out. He played a positive role for the team in helping us hold ACC to 13 points in the first half.”
Tyrrell noted ACC’s top player, who was averaging 22 points a contest, was greatly limited in the game. “We took their best player out of the game,” said Tyrrell. “Alex Meurer guarded him without helping off and did an outstanding job locking him down. He finished with 13 points and did not have one 3-point shot, which is the strength of his game. He only had (four) field goals. I was very proud of Alex’s effort in containing him. He ended up fouling out early in the fourth quarter. Kevin Cheng took a charge on him and took him out of the game. At that point, the ACC coach pulled all his guys and put in bench guys with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. We controlled the tempo from the opening tip. It was an outstanding effort all the way around.”
Earlier, the Knights lost to highly toured Aurora Christian on the road in a non-conference game that was featured as Comcast’s game of the week.
“Aurora Christian is a tough team,” said Tyrrell. “It was the Comcast game of the week and that was a lot of fun to be part of. We battled the whole game against them. We had lost to Riverside-Brookfield the night before on a half-court shot at the buzzer and we came back the next night prepared and focused against Aurora Christian. They hit a half-court shot to go up nine points at half and that took a little wind out of our sails, but I thought our kids did an outstanding job battling. We got it down to three points with 30 seconds to go. Aurora Christian has two Division I players, but we did a nice job competing. We did make some poor decisions on some possessions we needed to get back and that led to them pulling out the win.
“In the locker room after the game the coaching staff was positive. We felt the kids battled in both games (R-B and Aurora Christian) and then they came in and had a good week of practice and took care of ACC.”
Tyrrell lauded the work of Cheng in the Aurora Christian contest. “Kevin Cheng had one of his best games of the year against them,” he said. “He kept us in the game. He took it upon himself to create opportunities. I was proud of his competitiveness. He was a driving force.”
The win against ACC pushed IC Catholic Prep to 15-8 overall and 6-4 in MSC Blue play. The Knights had three games left in the regular season against Glenbard South, Illiana Christian and Wheaton Academy.“Our goal is to finish strong these last three games,” said Tyrrell. “We want to win the last three. If we can take care of the last three games we can say we beat all the teams in the conference. Glenbard South and Wheaton Academy are the ones we still need to beat.”
The Knights will find out their postseason seeding this week.

 

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