IC Catholic Prep seniors enjoy their big night vs. Wheaton Academy

There were some memorable senior moments Friday night at IC Catholic Prep, but there also were some key contributions from a youngster as well.

The host Knights turned the tables on Metro Suburban Conference rival Wheaton Academy with a 55-45 defeat of a Warriors squad that had claimed the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season. Starting five seniors on Senior Night, the Knights (17-11, 4-6) rebounded from a slow start to win behind strong rebounding and a big night from the free-throw line.

Senior post players Antonio Richardson and John Hilgart combined for 22 rebounds - and combined for 20 points, while fellow senior George O'Brien knocked down a long 3-point buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter.

O'Brien's long-range shot was his only basket of the night, but it sent the team into the final quarter with a 34-28 lead and momentum on its side. Sophomore Jake Gallagher then joined the seniors in making sure ICCP prevailed, scoring 7 of his team-high 14 points in the final quarter.

"Our seniors were gone all week at a retreat and they came back a little rusty," Gallagher said, explaining the team's 8-0 hole to start the game. "But then we settled down and came together as a team and decided we just weren't going to lose this game."

The Knights battled back from the sluggish start to take a 20-19 lead at the half and then used a big edge in rebounding and foul shots to pull out the victory. For the game, ICCP was 20 of 27 from the free-throw line, compared to a 4 for 11 night for Wheaton Academy (13-13, 4-6).

"Our seniors were at the Kairos Retreat this week so they didn't practice other than Monday," ICCP coach TJ Tyrrell said. "Unfortunately for Senior Night I had to sub them out kind of early, but they recalibrated themselves and really did a nice job of battling back to take the lead at the half. And George's shot, that was awesome, just awesome. That was a great senior moment that he'll remember forever."

Hilgart, who went more than two and a half quarters before making his first field goal, knocked down a 3-pointer of his own in the third quarter and added a pair of baskets in the fourth while finishing the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds. On one sequence in the final quarter he took four straight shots, grabbing three offensive rebounds, before finally finishing the job with a basket for a 45-35 lead.

Hilgart knows that when he and Richardson are both attacking loose balls under the rim that it can be difficult on their opponents.

"I feel like when we're both down there going for the offensive rebound it's tough for the other guys," he said. "I was hoping for contact there (on the four attempts down low), hoping for a foul, but they didn't give me anything so I kept going."

Cole Andrews paced the Warriors with 14 points and Samuel Anderson and Adam Baarman each added 7, but the visitors just couldn't get enough shots to fall from the floor or the foul line.

"We had a lot of good looks especially early in the game. We had a lot of good looks, but we didn't have a good night shooting," Wheaton Academy coach Steve Thonn said. "We hung tough even with the bad night of shooting. But at the end, we missed free throws and they made their free throws and then you're in the chase mode."

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