Timothy Christian slips past old rival

You can take the Illinois out of Illiana Christian, but you can't take the rivalry out of a Timothy Christian-Illiana boys basketball game.

"We prepared for this mentally all week long," said Timothy junior guard Matt Owens, who scored 9 of his 15 points in a 23-4 run that aided the Trojans' 56-51 nonconference win Saturday in Elmhurst.

This year Illiana Christian relocated to Dyer, Indiana, from Lansing, Illinois, leaving the Metro Suburban Conference as well. Still, the schools maintain a rivalry so friendly that the student sections poked fun at themselves, visitors wearing "farmers" garb and the hosts going "preppy."

It was more serious on the court considering Illiana boasted a 7-0 record and Timothy, well, did not.

"Last week was a bit of a struggle for us. We lost two games at home and really it came down to just us playing with not that much heart and energy, not that much passion," said Trojans coach Scott Plaisier. "So we had five days to kind of look at ourselves in the mirror and say, can we go out there and play for each other as hard as we can, and I felt like that's what we really did tonight."

Timothy led 13-9 after one quarter before turning the ball over four times in the second. Illiana big men Mark Hernandez and Alex Eeinigenburg and sophomore guard Logan Van Essen paced a 27-21 Vikings lead at halftime.

"My teammates always say coach has a way with words," Owens said, "so we came in there with heads down a little bit, a little gassed, and he just sparked us, and he reminded us of our principles. When we came out I feel like we just had a different energy."

At first it didn't look promising when Illiana (7-1) scored the first 6 points of the third quarter and Timothy's leading scorer, Josh Harris, took his fourth foul at 5:51 of the third.

Down 35-24, Timothy (4-3) went on an 18-4 run to lead 42-39. The Trojans scored the last 8 points, Justin Baez hitting a 12-footer at the buzzer. Owens, Zach Orange and Harris hit 3s, as Orange and Chris Brooks took turns faceguarding Van Essen on defense.

"I was just trying to go out there and play clean but also aggressive and physical," said Orange, a junior guard.

A Harris 3 moved the lead to 52-41 with 4:31 left to play. Illiana rallied within 54-50 with 20.3 seconds before A.J. Vos and Baez made separate free throws in the last 17 seconds.

Harris' 18 points led all scorers. Trojans post Danardo Jones scored 5 points with 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. Van Essen scored 13 points and Hernandez and Eeinigenburg each had double-doubles in points and rebounds.

"Regardless of how a team's playing, whether your team's rolling and the other one's not, it doesn't matter when it comes to games against Timothy," said Illiana coach Scott Roozeboom. "You're going to have to strap it on, you know you're in for a battle."

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