Two first-quarter fouls barely slowed Connor VanderBrug's attack on Illiana Christian and the scoreboard.
Timothy Christian's 6-foot-6 junior forward scored a personal-high 29 points. Paired with senior guard Danny Leach's 17 points it was not enough. A balanced Illiana squad won the Metro Suburban Conference game 70-62 in Elmhurst.
If early foul trouble couldn't contain VanderBrug, Illiana Christian coach Thomas Roozeboom reasoned, defense might.
"They've got two solid, solid players, and we knew that," Roozeboom said. "We didn't want VanderBrug to get what he did, obviously. And he was hot. And we came out in the second half and applied a little bit more pressure but really focused on those two guys and really tried to force the other guys that were playing to beat us. And it worked."
It took a bit for Leach to warm up, suffering from a head cold, but VanderBrug unloaded the arsenal right quick. Jumpers, half-hooks, turnarounds, and a 3-pointer that merged with a Leach 3 and a VanderBrug spin move for a 31-25 Trojans lead late in the second quarter. Junior Wes Ditchfield, alone under the rim and assisted by George Thompson, produced a 33-30 halftime lead for Timothy (4-8, 0-5).
"I was making shots and teammates were helping me out, giving me the ball," said VanderBrug, who had an 11-point second quarter and made 11 of 15 field-goal attempts in the game.
Illiana Christian (9-5, 3-1) fought back in the third and trailed 46-43 when steals by Brandon Martin both started and finished a 10-0 Vikings run. Illiana forced 19 turnovers while committing only 4 itself.
"I think what really hurt us," Trojans coach Jack LeGrand said, "is they did a good job defensively and we had about five empty possessions in a row there. That just killed us. They were doubling up and sagging on Danny and Connor pretty well."
Losing 53-48 entering the fourth quarter, Timothy pulled within 3 points twice, on baskets by Leach and VanderBrug. Five turnovers in the last three minutes foiled any momentum.
"They were playing triangle-and-two there, so we were kind of struggling to get me and Connor the ball in a good flow," Leach said. "So a lot of times I think we were trying to force passes that weren't there, and that led to a lot of turnovers."
Jon Zandstra's 20 points led four double-figure scorers for Illiana. Marcus Ottenhoff scored 16 points, Elijah Lares 12 and Caleb Jonkman 10.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.