Marmion routs Kaneland to win regional title

Collin Wainscott didn't miss much of anything Saturday night, draining 3-pointers, making 16 of 18 free throws and helping the Marmion boys basketball team end a nearly half-century drought.

Wainscott finished with 35 points, leading the Cadets to an 87-61 win over Kaneland and the Class 3A Kaneland regional title, their first regional championship win since 1977.

"We kept pushing and we knew we were going to pull this one out," Wainscott said. "It was a well-deserved win for us.

"It's been a long time since we won, and it's been one of our goals since the beginning of the season. We accomplished that. We're not done, but it's a really good step for the program."

Wainscott made his first five 3-point attempts. When the referees started calling fouls on virtually every fourth-quarter possession, Wainscott took advantage with a 13 of 14 performance from the line in the fourth quarter alone. Marmion scored 20 fourth-quarter points before reaching the 30-point threshold needed for the running clock, with just five points from field goals.

And it was Wainscott that powered a 15-0 run for the Cadets (21-11) that turned a 31-31 tie into a 46-31 game in less than two minutes.

"Collin's our four-year point guard right there, and that's what you expect out of four-year point guards," coach Joe Piekarz said. "He took control of the game. I don't know what his free-throw percentage was but I know it was very good."

The game was tied with 36.5 seconds left in the first half when Wainscott hit a couple free throws, kicking off the crucial scoring run. Marmion scored six more in the half on 3-pointers by Jabe Haith and a buzzer-beater by Wainscott.

Then the Cadets opened the second half with seven more points, including another 3 for Wainscott and punctuated by Trevon Roots' second dunk of the game.

Piekarz said he warned his team at halftime that Kaneland was primed for a comeback. Sycamore hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at halftime to go up 11 into the break in the regional semifinal, but Kaneland scored 21 of the next 23 points.

"We talked about how the start of the third quarter is where we try to separate it," Piekarz said. "They executed the game plan to perfection. We knew how good Kaneland was. I'm just so proud of what this group has done for Marmion basketball."

Haith finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, with Roots adding 14 points, five rebounds and three blocks. The Cadets were 11 of 20 from long range in the game.

"Obviously we're disappointed," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "It was back and forth early, then they got on a little run there at the end of the half. ... I thought second half, credit to them they shot lights out. Then it just kind of snowballed on us. They're a good team, tough to come back on."

Troyer Carlson had 16 points for Kaneland in the loss. The junior hit a layup with 1:13 left in the third quarter that gave him 1,000 points for his career.

Colombe said Carlson's feat is more impressive considering the Knights played 15 games in his freshman year, and had to cancel multiple games due to COVID last season.

"Credit to him for how hard he works," Colombe said. "It's pretty amazing when you consider two of his three years were COVID years and we lost a bunch of games there. ... Now we don't want to put any pressure on him, but he's not that far away - I think our all-time leading scorer is somewhere in the 1,400s and he's had more than 400 points this year. So he's got the potential to be the all-time leading scorer in Kaneland boys history. That would be sweet if he could get there."

Gevon Grant had 13 points and a team-best six rebounds for Kaneland. Junior Parker Violett added 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

"Obviously tonight was tough, but for the season yeah, I'm really proud of them," Colombe said. "They exceed expectations and raised the bar of where we want to be as a program. Our goals were to come in, try to get 20 wins. We got 26. Try to win the conference. We went undefeated in conference. Those things aren't easy to do. Not many teams here have done it in the past."

The Cadets will face Crystal Lake South in the Class 3A Burlington Central sectional on Tuesday, with the winner playing either Burlington Central or Rockford Boylan on Friday.

"It's been a long time since we won, and it's been one of our goals since the beginning of the season," Wainscott said. "We accomplished that. We're not done, but it's a really good step for the program."

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