CHESTERTON | Four days after having one undefeated team (Munster) on the ropes, Times No. 8 Chesterton had No. 2 Andrean in danger of suffering its first loss Wednesday.
This time, the Trojans finished what they started, holding firm through an intense second half to resist the Niners (11-1), 68-57.
"After losing to Munster, we were upset so to come back and win this one is really big," Chesterton's Matt Holba said. "We knew we could do it from the beginning. We knew they were going to pressure us the whole game. We focused on end-of-the-game situations, staying poised. We were like a totally different team at the end of the game."
Chesterton made a whopping 16 of 18 foul shots in the final two minutes and 20 of 26 in the fourth quarter to secure the upset. Donnie Johnson, who was 0-of-6 shooting free throws at one point last week, hit six in a row, including two as a substitute for Jacob Andert after Andert was bloodied on a Sam Toporski foul at the end of a steal and breakaway with 2:05 left.
"We were able to finish the game," Trojans coach Tom Peller said. "We haven't been able to finish other games, but we learned and grew from that. We stayed poised, took care of the ball a lot better and did a great job making important free throws. You've got to win some of these in order for people to believe that. You can't just get close."
The Trojans (8-5) never trailed after a string of seven points in the third quarter. Matt Holba blocked shots on three consecutive Andrean possessions, the last hustled down by Andert for a transition layup.
"I thought that changed the complexion of what Andrean wanted to do," Peller said of the sequence. "They didn't really go inside after that."
Cole Teal followed with a three-point play, following his own missed shot, to extend the Trojans' advantage back to eight at 42-34. Andrean got within three twice inside the four-minute mark before Chesterton scored its last 14 points at the foul line.
"It's a big win, but we've got to keep improving every single game," Holba said. "There's no such thing as being too good."
Holba registered 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to go with 11 rebounds and four rejections.
"At the end, (assistant) coach (Bob) Nemtuda came in (acting) really sad and shouted, 'My boys are growing up!'" Holba said. "We didn't turn it over. We didn't break under the pressure."
The first half was a roller coaster of scoring runs by both teams. Chesterton rattled off 14 in a row in the first quarter, including 3s by Teal and Chris Palombizio, to forge a 14-2 advantage. The 59ers countered with 13 in a row to reclaim a 15-14 edge in the second quarter. Chesterton registered 3s by Donnie Johnson, Holba and Palombizio to go back up seven before a pair of Skyler Moss baskets in the final minute made it 29-26 at the half.
In addition to Holba, Palombizio added 13 points, followed by a dozen from Andert and Teal. Johnson's 11 gave Chesterton gave five players in double figures.
"We're getting smarter in our shot selection," Peller said. "We're passing on good shots ot get better shots."
Nick Davidson managed 16 points and eight rebounds on an off shooting night (7 of 19) for Andrean. Toporski posted 14 points off the bench, including three of his four 3s in the fourth quarter. Collin Wojcik nabbed a dozen caroms despite battling foul trouble.