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Fieldcrest falls in super-sectional

DeKalb 2A Super-Sectional: Timothy Christian 59, Fieldcrest 43

DEKALB — After the opening eight minutes of Tuesday's Northern Illinois University Class 2A Super-Sectional, the Fieldcrest Knights were down six points and struggling in almost every facet of the game against a much taller and longer Timothy Christian squad.

Over the next two quarters, the Trojans' switch from a man-to-man to a 2-1-2 zone defense made things even tougher and helped lead the way to a 59-43 Timothy Christian victory here at the Convocation Center.

With Fieldcrest (27-7) hitting only 18% from the floor in the first 24 minutes, Timothy Christian (28-5) extended the advantage to 20-11 at halftime and 36-18 heading to the fourth.

"Their zone defense shut us down completely ... we didn't have any open looks," said Fieldcrest coach Matt Winkler. "We kind of did (against a zone) tonight what we did in the first half against Sterling Newman, throw the ball back and forth and not attack it. When we did, we weren't ready to shoot ... a lot of nerves early. Big stage, big court.

"I thought we played horribly offensively in the first half ... we had bad looks combined with bad shooting. However, we were only down nine and were only down eight to Newman, so we knew we were still in range.

"We never quit and made a nice run there in the fourth, but we just needed to shoot the ball better and play a little bit better defense. But you have to tip your hat to them, their defense was outstanding, their closeouts were great. We just couldn't get anything past them."

Fieldcrest — which went 9 of 18 from the field in the final frame but finished just 4 of 24 from long range in the contest — was able to cut the 18-point disadvantage down to eight with just over two minutes to play, beginning with junior guard Cory Land connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers, then adding a steal and score, part of his team-high 16 points in the opening two-plus minutes.

"I think seeing the time ticking down, we all thought, 'Man, this is it, and this is what we have to do,' said senior Matt Lorton of the surge. "We started to loosen up and play our game. It's something we should have been doing the whole game."

The Knights continued to fight back, getting a pair of fast-break layups off turnovers by Jaxon Cusac-McKay, the last making it 40-30 with 4 minutes, 43 seconds to go.

"We played a little tight," said Cusac-McKay, who finished with 12 points, two assists and two steals. "Their No. 20 (6-foot, 4-inch Josh Harris) in the middle of the zone is tall, long, and we just struggled to get past him."

Another triple and two free throws by Land, plus old-fashioned three-point plays by Matt Lorton and Andrew May, closed the gap to 49-41 at the 2:15 mark.

But that is as close as the Knights would get the rest of the way. Timothy Christian crashed the boards for a pair of rebounds on their own missed free throws to keep Fieldcrest at arm's length.

"We were within striking distance, but a couple of offensive rebounds off missed free throws just killed us," Winkler said

The Trojans — who shot 40% from the floor and held a 39-31 margin on the glass, were led by 14 points from Harris, 12 points and 11 rebounds from 6-5 sophomore Ben VanderWal and 10 markers from Matt Owens.

"A lot of great things happened this year for this team," said Winkler about his club that entered the season with only one returning starter but captured a share of the Heart of Illinois Conference regular-season championship. "We had won 14 straight ballgames coming into tonight. This team works hard in practice, in games, and they hate to lose. They are the epitome of a team, they really are.

"This season has been in one word ... awesome."

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At NIU Convocation Center, DeKalb

Timothy Christian 59, Fieldcrest 43

(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)

FIELDCREST (43) — Nix 2-3 1-1 5, H. Lorton 0-4 0-0 0, Cusac-McKay 4-16 3-4 12, Land 5-15 3-4 16, Sidebottom 0-1 0-0 0, B. Nordstrom 0-1 0-0 0, May 2-4 1-1 5, Karn-Peet 0-0 0-0 0, N. Nordstrom 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Sunken 0-0 0-0 0, Joyal 1-2 0-0 2, Cook 0-0 0-0 0, VanCoppenolle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-52 9-11 43.

TIMOTHY CHRISTIAN (59) — Marinkovich 0-0 2-2 2, Voss 1-5 1-2 3, Harris 5-12 4-4 14, VanderWal 4-10 4-6 12, Orange 2-4 2-4 6, Hughes 0-0 0-0 0, Owens 3-13 4-5 10, Johnson 4-4 0-0 8, Radoha 0-0 0-0 0, Baldridge 0-0 4-4 4, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Kwasigroch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 21-27 59.

Fieldcrest (27-7) 4 7 7 25 — 43

Timothy Christian (28-5) 10 10 16 23 — 59

3-point goals — Fieldcrest 4-24 (H. Lorton 0-2, Cusac-McKay 1-8, Land 3-7, M. Lorton 0-3, Sidebottom 0-1, B. Nordstrom 0-1, May 0-1, N. Nordstrom 0-1); Timothy Christian 0-7 (Voss 0-2, Harris 0-3, VanderWal 0-1, Orange 0-1). Rebounds — Fieldcrest 31 (M. Lorton 7, H. Lorton 5); Timothy Christian 39 (VanderWal 11, Harris 8). Assists — Fieldcrest 4 (Cusac-McKay 2); Timothy Christian 10 (Harris 4). Steals — Fieldcrest 5 (Cusac-McKay 2); Timothy Christian 9 (Harris 2, Owens 2). Blocks — Fieldcrest 3 (H. Lorton 1, Cusac-McKay 1, Land 1); Timothy Christian 4 (VanderWal 2). Turnovers — Fieldcrest 11, Timothy Christian 9. Total fouls (fouled out) — Fieldcrest 17 (H. Lorton); Timothy Christian 12 (none).

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