CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Thornton may have struggled with rebounding all night, but Da'Marques Turner secured the ball for the Wildcats when they needed it most.
With the game tied at 78-78 in overtime, Turner pulled in a rebound and put the ball back up and off the glass as time expired to give Thornton a 80-78 victory over Eisenhower in the opening round of the 4A Marian Catholic Regional. Turner finished the game with 18 points, but his final two points were the biggest of the night.
"It was a long rebound and I just reacted to the ball," Turner said. "There was two guys coming to me and I just saw a little crease I could get to. I just rose up and threw the bank shot."
Thornton junior Justin Taylor led the Wildcats with 27 points and seven rebounds. Thornton trailed Eisenhower 62-50 to start the fourth quarter, but a 19-2 run by the Wildcats quickly changed the momentum.
"We just had a lot of momentum because they kept turning the ball over," Taylor said of the fourth quarter run. "We just kept scoring. In the fourth quarter, we just showed that we're a better team."
Eisenhower connected on 17 3-pointers and made plenty of second-chance points off of long rebounds. Still, Thornton was able to get the big rebound when it mattered most. The Wildcats will move on to play Crete-Monee on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Marian Catholic.
"This is a big win," Taylor said. "It's a big game Wednesday because Crete beat us in the Dipper and we want payback."
In the first game of the night, Lincoln-Way East came out from the opening tip and controlled play against T.F. South on the way to a 59-42 win. Kenny Doss led the Rebels with 14 points. Donald Stone added eight points for T.F. South.
"Lincoln-Way East showed a lot more composure," Rebels coach John O'Rourke said. "They ran their offensive sets well and knocked down their jump shots, and we did the opposite. We were not composed and we didn't run our offensive sets."
The Rebels trailed 23-20 at the half, but a 11-5 run by the Griffins to start the second half opened up the Lincoln-Way East lead.
"We just didn't compete at the level we wanted to," Doss said. "We didn't play hard enough. They wanted it more than we did."