By Mike Miazga
Correspondent
While the Timothy Christian boys basketball season ended earlier than it would have liked, the Trojans still achieved success on many levels.
The Trojans finished the season 22-6 overall and won the Metro Suburban Conference Red Division title with an 11-1 mark. Timothy went 8-4 in conference play last year.
Timothy lost to crosstown neighbor IC Catholic Prep 54-45 in the title game of the Class 2A Guerin Prep regional.
“I give IC a lot of credit as far as their approach to the game,” said first-year Timothy coach Scott Plaisier. “They used their offense as part of their best defense by controlling the ball and running long offensive possessions. They made us play defense for extended periods of time and it was 16-10 at halftime because of it That makes every possession have an impact. We left some points out there in the first half on layups and free throws that could have given us the lead.”
Plaisier was pleased with how his team reacted in the second half. “We played a good third quarter and that got us to a two-point game,” he said. “The start of the fourth quarter did not go as planned. IC went on a 12-0 run and we found ourselves chasing pretty hard. Because of that we had to make a decision because they were controlling the ball and time of possession. We wanted to make the fourth quarter last as long as possible. To their credit, they knocked down a ton of free throws. If they give us a break by missing some of those free throws, maybe we make the comeback all the way.
“Our thought process was that if we could get it to a four- or five-point game we would play it straight up and not foul. We never got that opportunity. We were down six with a chance to get down to four and we couldn’t do it. The kids fought hard and kept coming at them. Well-shot free throws ended the game and our season.”
Plaisier knew his team would be in for a battle. Timothy defeated IC Catholic Prep at home in the regular-season meeting. “IC is a well-coached team,” he said. “They did a very good job. They had a good game plan. We had been struggling against zone defenses the majority of the season. They give us troubles. Against St. Edward, they played us zone and I figured IC would do something similar. They played zone and it was hard for us to execute some of the things we’ve worked on. We didn’t shoot well in the first half and had some missed opportunities. That could have made the game go a little differently. We tried to scramble it up the best we could in the fourth. There is no shame in losing to a team like that. We’re just disappointed we couldn’t win a regional when we had a successful season.
“It almost feels like we overachieved and underachieved in the same season. We overachieved with the number of wins we had and we got to a point where we felt pretty good in getting to that next goal of winning the regional title. And then when we don’t do it, that’s tough.”
Overall, Plaisier placed high praise on his 2017-2018 group, particularly the senior class. “We had a great group of senior guys,” he said. “We had six seniors who were tremendous all year. They are really special kids who accepted me as their first-year head coach. That’s not an easy thing to do when you are 17 and 18 years old and it’s your senior year and you have to accept my teachings and philosophies. A ton of credit goes to our kids. They accepted me with open arms. They are a joy to coach. My heart aches for them. They wanted to win that regional title really bad.”
Plaisier returns five juniors and a sophomore from this year’s team. “We are going to have to rely on some younger guys next season,” he said. “And we’ll have some guys from the sophomore team who will be playing. It’s going to be a much different group next year. We had so much production out of the seniors this season. We’ll be leaning on some younger guys who will have to step forward. Matt Owens, who was a sophomore this year, is back and Justin Baez started every game this year as a junior and will give us good minutes. We’re going to need guys off this sophomore team to play significant roles for us.”
In the loss to IC Catholic Prep, Brandon Orange led the Trojans with 18 points. Owens added 17 points, while Baez had six points. The Trojans shot 38 percent from the field and 33 percent from the 3-point line with Owens connecting on three 3s, while Baez and Orange each made two.
Orange had eight rebounds, while Ty Merrick had three assists.
Earlier, the Trojans were 61-41 winners over Guerin Prep in the regional semifinals. Timothy led 15-11 after the first quarter and 30-24 at halftime. A 17-7 run in the third quarter provided more distance for the Trojans.
Orange led the Trojans with 14 points, while Baez had 13 points. Merrick, Mike Martens and Nick Huisman each had six points. Timothy shot 52 percent from the field. Baez hit three 3-pointers, while Martens had two. Orange had six rebounds, while Danardo Jones grabbed five. Michael Thomas finished with eight assists and had a team-high three steals.
Timothy players Chris Brooks and Andrew Petrulakis advanced to the sectional portion of the Class 2A state 3-point shooting contest. They will shoot on their home floor this week for a chance to advance to the 3-point state finals in Peoria.

 

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