It took a half for Timothy Christian to settle in against Northridge Prep.
Once comfortable the Trojans put themselves in position for an achievement that last occurred in 1980.
In Tuesday's Class 2A Plano sectional semifinal, Timothy Christian beat Northridge Prep 51-36 to move to Friday's final against the winner of today's semifinal between Walther Lutheran and Providence-St. Mel.
Timothy Christian (23-6) won its last sectional championship in 1980, the second of consecutive sectional titles. In 2006 the Trojans lost to North Lawndale in a sectional final at Lisle.
"This has been just a real fun run," said Trojans second-year head coach Jack LeGrand, an assistant on the 2006 squad. "These guys have a real strong team bond, good chemistry, and they just don't want their season to end. They're just excited to play basketball."
Perhaps too excited early on against Northridge Prep (14-15), which got 21 of its points by left-handed bomber Robert Rey, son of Knights coach Will Rey. LeGrand suggested the playoff atmosphere affected the Trojans, as did forward Rob Stein, who led the team with 16 points.
It also may have been Northridge's amoeba-like 1-3-1 zone defense, which disrupted Timothy into 12 first-half turnovers. Despite its edge in athleticism and rebounding Timothy led just 9-5 after a quarter and 20-11 at halftime, well within range of a few Rey 3-pointers.
"We were forcing stuff, trying to do too much in the beginning," said point guard Reggie Greenwood, who scored 7 points with 4 steals. "Once we started to pass it around, get open shots, that's when we started clicking."
Northridge center Pete Hinderer hit 2 hook shots to pull within 22-18 midway in the third quarter. Timothy responded with a 16-5 run for a 38-23 lead entering the fourth quarter. The closest the Knights came was 47-36 with 57 seconds to play.
Where passes once were thrown away or stolen, lazers by Greenwood and Mike Pizzello now got deep inside to Stein, Justin Peeples or Mark Penczak, whose three-point play followed by a pure 3 created a double-digit margin.
"We came out nervous, making little mistakes," said Penczak, who scored 14 points while Peeples added 12. "But in the second half coach gave us a good talk in the locker room. We just pulled together, made some things happen and just jelled in the second half."