Timothy Christian's 61-46 victory against Westmont in Friday's Class 2A Aurora Christian regional final didn't surprise Trojans junior Mark Penczak at all.
"Before the game I said we'd beat them by 15 and we beat them by 15 today, so it was good," Penczak said.
Contact information ( * required )
The Trojans - who advance to play Northridge Prep in Tuesday's Plano sectional semifinal - set out to prove Penczak right from the opening tip, rushing out to a 14-3 lead just more than five minutes into the game. Westmont never came close again.
"I was so confident in our team today," Penczak said. "I feel so good. Our team jelled so much. We have so much chemistry with our team."
Timothy Christian was ready for Westmont's zone defense, but it also grabbed 7 first-quarter steal that resulted in a few fastbreak baskets.
"The turnovers, they were bad enough," Westmont coach Craig Etheridge said, "but we lost our poise. We had a couple of kids get a little rattled. They got frustrated with themselves and with their teammates, and from there we just had a hard time getting our feet underneath us again and making a push."
"In practice we've been working hard on defense and trying to attack the zone, and that's what we did," Trojans senior Justin Peeples said. "We got to the free-throw line and made our free throws. Just penetrated and kicked and knocked down shots."
"The first quarter our kids came out real hungry and ready to play basketball," Trojans coach Jack LeGrand said. "Boy, we played a really sharp quarter there. Just sharing the ball, knocking shots down and defending all over the court, which was really nice to see."
Timothy Christian, which lost to Westmont earlier in the season, had three players score in double figures - Rob Stein and Peeples had 16 points, and Penczak 15 - but the Trojans' best player, Reggie Greenwood didn't. He didn't have to; his 7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists did plenty of damage.
"That's something," LeGrand said. "Reggie means so much to us. He does so many other things for us. And we've been getting just tremendous balance from our starting lineup. We've been getting three, four, five guys in double figures the last two weeks of the season, which is really helping us on our roll right now. It's really fun to see it come together."
Especially if you see it come together before the game even starts.