A furious fourth quarter rally after a frantic back-and-forth third quarter proved to be the difference Tuesday for Aurora Christian in its 58-42 upset of St. Edward.
The third seeded Eagles advanced to Friday’s Class 2A Aurora Christian Regional title game against top seed Immaculate Conception after knocking off the second seeded Green Wave for the first time in three tries this season.
“Whoever was hot at the end of the game was going to win,” said St. Edward coach P.J. White, whose shorthanded team closed out a 20-9 season.
“I didn’t think they could stay that hot for that long and we went for quite a stretch there without scoring.”
The Eagles were clinging to a 21-20 lead at intermission after Green Wave junior Joseph French drained a three-pointer that beat the buzzer and capped a 7-0 run to close the second quarter.
“Yea, I felt like we should have been leading by more,” said ACS coach Pat McNamara. “We played much better in the second half than we did in the first.”
The teams traded baskets throughout the third with the lead changing hands 10 times in the period. Seldom-used junior Juuwan Cisco came off the bench to score seven straight points at one stretch and ACS led 36-35 entering the fourth.
“Cisco gave us a really big lift,” said McNamara.
ACS then finished strong, outscoring St. Ed’s 22-7 in the final frame.
The Green Wave got a putback from senior guard Davontae Elam (12 points) with 7:01 left in the game but it was their only points until Elam made a pair of free throws with 4:45 remaining.
Those points cut the lead to 45-39 and about a minute later, it was still within reach at 47-40 when Eagles’ senior point guard Johnathan Harrell left the game after getting accidentally kicked in the stomach.
He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital after the game.
A pair of sophomores provided the spark for Coach Pat McNamara’s club. His son, Pat Jr., fed R.D. Lutze for a basket to extend the margin to 49-40 and then the Eagles were off and runnng.
St. Edward turned the ball over eight times in the final period.
“We got guys making big steals and getting big layups,” said Lutz, who led all scorers with 15 points. Pat McNamara Jr. added 12.
Zach Singer added eight points while Wes Wolfe and Harrell (10 rebounds, 3 assists) added seven to go with Sisco’s seven.
“They were missing two of the their big men, too,” noted the elder McNamara.
Nick Duffy, a 6-4 junior who missed the previous six games with mononucleosis, did see limited action but scored just three points.
Also sidelined for the second game in a row with a foot injury was 6-3 junior Danny Favela.