Latin ends Timothy Christian’s playoff run

Despite some unfavorable results, Timothy Christian continued to believe its best basketball was still to come.

Turns out the Trojans were right.

Winners of four straight heading into Tuesday’s Class 2A sectional semifinal it hosted, Timothy Christian put a scare into Latin before eventually falling 45-36 in Elmhurst.

The Trojans (13-20) had reached this point by defeating IC Catholic Prep to win the regional title last Friday.

“You want to play your best basketball at the end,” said senior Alex Keizer, the team’s lone all-conference selection who broke the program’s single-season record for most 3-pointers made. “After we lost two games at the conference tournament, we held together. We won four in a row and won the regional against our crosstown rival. It was a great feeling to beat them.

“We just stayed positive and stuck together, that’s how we did it.”

Timothy looked like it might keep the late-season magic alive at the outset, jumping out to a 14-4 lead, punctuated by a 3 from Keizer. But the visiting Romans (21-10) outscored the Trojans 20-4 over the final quarter and a half to take a 24-18 advantage into intermission.

After each team was held to three field goals in the third, the home team pulled to within five at 31-26 on a basket by Marc Gamble but that is the closest they would get.

Gamble led Timothy with 11 points. Stephen Hribal chipped in with nine and Keizer finished with eight.

“We stuck with it,” Keizer said, “but sometimes you just don’t win the game. I thought it was a good game by both teams. Latin is athletic and they have a high basketball-IQ.”

Ryan Mbouombouo topped all scorers with 17 points and Nicholas Rotter and Ryan McLaughlin had 11 apiece for Latin.

“All season long, we kind of knew what our potential was,” Timothy Christian coach Scott Plaisier said. “It was a matter of putting it together consistently. At the end of the year, we kind of found that. Our magic number was 43 (points), if we could get there, we were in pretty good shape. We really dug in on the defensive side and found our rhythm that way.

“Even after those losses early, they never gave up on each other. They came to work every single day and we had great leaders in the locker room. And that showed at the end of the year.”

Gamble added six rebounds and Thon Ball blocked a pair of shots.

“Latin is a really good offensive team,” said Plaisier, whose team also lost 61-46 to Latin back on Jan. 13. “We threw every little wrinkle in the book at them. But at the end of the day, you have to be able to put the ball in the bucket to give yourselves a chance.”

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